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Sharing family health history

Create a family health portrait

Map out your family health history with the My Family Health Portrait web tool.

Learning your family's health history is important for your own health. This information will help your doctor identify health problems that might run in your family that could affect your own risk of disease. If you can, gather and write down the health history of your:

  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Aunts and uncles
  • Nieces and nephews
  • Children

Ask the following questions to help you learn:

  • What health issues did they have?
  • If they are dead, what did they die of?
  • How old were they when they died?
  • Did they smoke, drink, or have other lifestyle-related risk factors?

Share this information with your doctor. Also, tell your doctor about any health conditions your children have. Don't forget to tell the doctor about health conditions you have or had. A thorough family health history helps your doctor give you better care.

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More information on Sharing family health history

Read more from womenshealth.gov

  • How to Talk to Your Doctor or Nurse - Women can improve the quality of their health care just by communicating well with their health care providers. This brief online publication offers tips and suggestions for talking with your health care provider. It explains how to report symptoms and problems to your provider and lists important questions to ask about diagnosis and treatment.

Explore other publications and websites

  • Family Medical History Information - This resource provides a list of questions that may be useful when talking to your doctor about your family’s health history.
  • My Family Health Portrait - This website offers a computerized tool to help make it easy for anyone to create a complete portrait of their family's health.
  • Talking With Your Doctor - This resource offers many tips on how to be prepared when going to your doctor. It also features several links to provide more information and how to talk to your doctor if you’re nervous, impatient, or scared.
  • Talking With Your Doctor: A Guide for Older People - This brochure is a guide to helping older adults communicate easily and effectively with their physicians about their health.

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Content last updated: March 01, 2012.

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