Act Now to Gather Your Family Health History

As you visit with family members both near and far in these last days of the year, now is the perfect time to chat about your family’s health history. Collecting and organizing this information can be critical to the health care of you and your children.

Who to Talk To

The most important family members are your parents, followed by your brothers and sisters. Other family members to include are your grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins.

Questions to Ask

Before you jump into questioning your relatives, let them know the importance of the information. Being aware of risks and taking action can save lives. But don’t be surprised if some family members are reluctant to share information. Simply respect their wishes.

Here are a few ideas of the kinds of questions to ask:

  1. Do you have any chronic health problems like diabetes, heart disease and asthma?
  2. Have you had any surgeries?
  3. Does anyone in the family have a learning difference like dyslexia or ADHD?
  4. Does anyone in the family have mental health issues like depression or anxiety?
  5. Were there any environmental issues at home, at work, or in your community that had an impact on your health?

What to Do with the Information

Discuss your family health history with your doctor. You might want to organize the information using a digital tool, such as the one recommended by the American Medical Association: My Family Health Portrait. Don’t forget to update your family health history as new information becomes available.

Austin Family Magazine serves the greater Austin area with up-to-date information and ideas that promote smart parenting and healthy homes. Pick up the latest issue at any local HEB, Central Market, Whole Foods or visit

Sherida Mock is the editor of Austin Family Magazine.

All opinions expressed here are those of their authors and/or contributors and not of their employer. Any questions or concerns regarding the content found here may be sent to

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