Our moms are our first caretakers. From the time we’re born – and even well before then – they do everything in their power to ensure we’re healthy and happy. When we fall, they pick us back up. They bandage our wounds, heal our sore throats and take us to the doctor for factors beyond their control. Because of all this, your mom probably knows your health history. Mother’s Day is the perfect time to learn hers (and the rest of the family’s too)!
Understanding your family health history can help you identify risks – and, if necessary, take steps to reduce that risk. The U.S. Surgeon General recommends starting with the following questions:
- Do you have any chronic illnesses, such as heart disease or diabetes?
- Have you had any serious illnesses, such as cancer or stroke?
- If so, how old were you when you developed these illnesses?
- Did you have any difficulties with pregnancy?
- What is our family’s ancestry? What country did we come from?
- Did our late grandparents have any illnesses?
- How old were they when they died? What was their cause of death?
You can use the Surgeon General’s digital Family Health Portrait tool to record the answers and even share them with other family members and/or your healthcare provider:
This Mother’s Day, celebrate Mom by asking about her health. While these are sometimes difficult questions to ask, having a conversation about your family’s medical history has the power to help both of you!
Want more information? The Norton & Elaine Sarnoff Center for Jewish Genetics can provide resources and tools to help you start a conversation about family health history. A genetic counselor is available to answer any questions that may arise along the way.