As families come together to celebrate a new addition to their family, a baby shower is the perfect event to collect a family health history. Start a new tradition for your family, and make your family health history a continually growing collection for your loved ones.
What is a family health history?
A family health history is a record of the health conditions in your family. Certain diseases run in families, and people who have a family member with a health condition (such as diabetes, depression, or certain types of cancers) may be more likely to develop that condition themselves. Understanding health conditions that run in your family, allows you to make health decisions that might prevent disease, detect it early, and make lifestyle choices that may keep your child from getting a disease. Dr. Schiffman, Pediatric Hematology & Oncology Genetic Counselor at Huntsman Cancer Institute, states that, “Obtaining a family health history is one of the most important things you can do to help your doctor understand what your risk of disease is.”
How do I collect a family health history?
To collect your family health history, download a toolkit.
You should collect the health history of your first degree relatives (parents and siblings), second degree relatives (grandparents, aunts, and uncles), and third degree relatives (cousins and great grandparents). A good family health history includes the ages of relatives when conditions started, ages of relatives when conditions were diagnosed, and ethnicity of relatives (some diseases are more common in certain ethnic groups).
Include family health history in your baby shower
A woman will see her doctor at least 13 times during pregnancy. Many of her conversations with her doctor will be about genetics. Arming expecting mothers with the health information she needs, empowers her to make the very best choices for her new baby and her family. There is something about the birth of a baby that makes family members, who might otherwise be hesitant to talk about health issues, more receptive to having these discussions.
• Include a family health history collection tool (like the one provided in the toolkit) with your invitations, for family members to complete and bring with them to the baby shower. Another option is to email a pdf of the family health history collection tool. Have family members complete it and email it back.
• Make your baby’s family health history part of her baby book.