It is important for parents to learn as much as they can about their family health history in order to have a complete record for your child throughout his or her life.
Family Health History Plays a Major Role In:
- Identifying familial and hereditary disorders
- Determining inheritance patterns and recurrence risks for known and suspected genetic disorders
- Identifying those at risk for a genetic disorder
- Identifying those not at risk for a genetic disorder
- Providing information necessary for appropriate genetic counseling
- Providing an important adjunct to patient management of all childhood diseases, such as
growth problems and
Ideally a family history is recorded at your child first visit to the pediatrician, as well as a mother’s first prenatal visit. A family history should also be updated yearly with each
Questions Your Pediatrician May Ask About Family History:
- Are there any health problems that are known to run in your family, or that close relatives have been told are genetic? If so, what are these conditions?
- Is there anyone in the family who had cancer, heart disease, or other adult-onset health problem at an early age, such as between 20 and 50?
- Does/did anyone in the family have
learning problems, or have to go to a special school?
- Have there been any early deaths in the family, including stillbirths, infant deaths, multiple miscarriages, or shortened life span?
What is your ethnic background? Some genetic conditions are more common in certain geographic, ethnic, and racial groups.
- Have any relatives had extreme or unexpected reactions to medications or therapy?
Barriers to Collecting a Family History
According to a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although 96.3% of Americans considered knowledge of family history important to their personal health, only about 30% have ever tried to actively gather and organize their families’ health histories.
Barriers for families to collecting a family history include:
- Lack of time
- Incomplete records
- Inaccessible family members
- Incorrect or vague diagnoses
- Denial or guilt
- Family members not talking to each other
- Multiple family members who care for a child
- Fear of discrimination and stigmatization