Saturday, February 10, 2018

Family Health Tree: Medical Genealogy and You

What is a Family Health Tree?
In 2010, I was honored to serve on a committee for the Surgeon General project that provided Access the My Family Health Portrait Web Tool. I was an advising member for a Kansas University Medical Center grant whose goals were stated as“helps users organize family history information and then print it out for presentation to their family doctor.”  This website is now housed and maintained by Health and Human Services.
Using the tools provided, genetic genealogists may create an At-a-Glance Medical Tree.  Once you’ve gathered your data/information, by following the symbols that are defined (or add some of your own), this tree can be a breeze, and useful to the entire family and can be reviewed by your geneticists if necessary.

Where to Find Data/Information? 
  • The information needed to complete a “family health tree” is probably in your family files.  Take a close look at the cause of death on death certificates or obituaries.
  • Review medical records - we often get a copy of veteran medical records.
  • Take note of patterns: premature deaths, infertility patterns in women, birth defect patterns (I have seen some noted on census records), sibling patterns of illnesses, etc. 
The Goal - Take it to Your Doctor
In the end you should have a tree completed like the one above.  Your family and doctor will appreciate the family research. 

Kathleen Brandt

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