Its not to make you feel guilty about that extra piece of pecan pie. Its because your ancestors medical conditions may have a genetic component. So maybe you can improve your health outlook by changing a few habitsor at least youll know what to watch out for.
While Great-uncle Hectors intestinal blockage might not be the best dinner-table conversation, we encourage you to gently ask about family members illnesses and causes of death when your family gets together.
You can record what you learn using the Surgeon Generals My Family Health Portrait online tool, then print a chart to show your doctor.
Other ways to gather famliy health history:
- You may find clues about illnesses in journals and lettershealth was a major topic of discussion for our ancestors.
- Death certificates, funeral records, obituaries and coroners records (sometimes available in cases of unusual death) may offer a cause of death. Get tips for finding death records on the Now What? blog.
- Though harder to find and access, ancestors’ medical records also are helpful.
If you find yourself wondering what a record means by podagra, consult the archaic disease dictionary at Antiquus Morbus (its a term for gout in the joints of the foot.)