Everyone's family history of disease is different. The key features of a family history that may increase risk are:
- Diseases that occur at an earlier age than expected (10 to 20 years before most people get the disease)
- Disease in more than one close relative
- Disease that does not usually affect a certain gender (for example, breast cancer in a male)
- Certain combinations of diseases within a family (for example, breast and ovarian cancer, or heart disease and diabetes)
If your family has one or more of these features, your family history may hold important clues about your risk for disease.
To learn more about your child's family history, you should ask questions and collect information about their grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, siblings, and other children, including:
- major medical conditions and causes of death,
- age of disease onset and age at death, and
- ethnic background
- My Family Health Portrait - a new, free computerized tool to help make it fun and easy for anyone to create a sophisticated portrait of their family's health on your own computer.
- Compiling Your Family Medical History
- Family Health History
- Your Family History
These tips were partly reproduced from the CDC's Office of Genomics and Disease Prevention.