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Thanksgiving is Family Health History Day

   Since 2004, the Surgeon General of the US has declared Thanksgiving Day to be Family Health History Day.  It’s a day when many family members gather together…what better day for you, as a genealogist, to share what you know about your families health history.  We collect information about cause of death from the many death certificates we collect and are likely the most knowledgeable people in the family about health.

   Physicians know that many common health problems and diseases run in families and so they request, and spend some time reviewing your family health history.  At the time I moved to Florida in 2006, my three daughters were also heading out on their own.  I would get calls asking, “What did Nanny die of?”  So I created a family medical pedigree.   I have cancer on my side of the family (although no breast cancer), whereas my husband has lots of heart disease.  He also has two aunts (maternal and paternal) with early onset breast cancer.  Understanding this has allowed us to work with our doctors to schedule screenings…to stay on top of these issues.   I also am a carrier for Cystic Fibrosis which I passed to two of my three daughters.  Since this is a recessive disease, both parents have to carry the gene in order to pass the disease on to a child.  Luckily, my daughter’s husband does not carry the gene.  

   When I created the medical pedigree, I drew it manually.   Unlike a regular pedigree, a medical pedigree doesn’t require names.  Circles are females, squares are males, a line through the box indicates the individual is dead.  The notes by each box indicate the age at death, known illnesses and the age at onset.   Another important piece of information is the ethnic origin, as some diseases are tied to certain ethnic groups.  

Moughty Medical Pedigree

   The Surgeon General has made this process much easier as they have created the “My Family Health Portrait Tool.”  Check it out and create a Health Portrait that you can share with your family on Thanksgiving.  

   Happy Hunting!


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© Donna M. Moughty 2007- 2017