Family health histories _ how to get started

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Some tips on creating family health histories, from the government and genetic specialists:

_Start with information about your own health and that of your parents, children and siblings. Then add grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins from both sides of the family.

_Include a range of health conditions, from heart disease and cancer to arthritis and problems during pregnancies.

_Ask about the age when health problems arose, and the cause and age of death for deceased relatives.

_If possible, ask follow-up questions such as whether a heart attack was preceded by treatment for high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

_Include lifestyle information, such as family eating and exercise habits, where people live, common occupations.

_Update information as new illnesses are diagnosed and the family grows.

_Respect that some relatives may not want to share their health history.

_If your children and grandchildren don’t ask, offer your information.

“If you’re a grandparent, a family health history is a gift you can give to your grandchildren,” says James O’Leary of the nonprofit Genetic Alliance.

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Online:

Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait: https://familyhistory.hhs.gov and for getting-started info, http://www.hhs.gov/familyhistory/

Genetic Alliance “Does It Run The Family” Campaign: http://www.geneticalliance.org

American Society of Human Genetics: http://www.talkhealthhistory.org/

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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