We cannot be reminded too often the importance of gathering a family health history. Since 2004, the U. S. Surgeon General has declared Thanksgiving to be National Family History Day, as part of the Family Health History Initiative. The aim is to encourage families as they gather throughout the holiday season -- and at other times -- to talk about and write down any health problems that may run in the family. This is one of those easy-to-procrastinate tasks, but what better time than the holidays to initiate a conversation?
As noted, health care professionals have known for a long time that common diseases can run in families. Tracing the illnesses suffered by your parents, grandparents, and other blood relatives can help your doctor predict the disorders to which you may be at risk and take action to keep you and your family healthy. To aid families in recording such information, My Family Health Portrait, was created. This is a web-based tool, which allows users to record, print, and share their family history information. In particular, families are encouraged to share the information with their doctors.