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Thanksgiving is Family Health History Day

Thanksgiving Day is almost here! It's one of my favorite holidays because I love to cook and although I won't be joining most of my family, we'll all touch base via Zoom. Isn't it interesting that two years ago Zoom wasn't even in our vocabulary. My younger sister lives here in Florida so she and her husband will be joining us.

If you've been following my blogs for a while, you know that I write on this topic every year and this is your annual reminder. If you have an appointment with a new doctor, you're going to fill out a boat load of paperwork (maybe it's an online application, but whatever that application is, it's likely it doesn't talk to all of the other applications you've completed for other doctors). You're going to be asked about the health history of your parents and grandparents and because you're the family genealogist, you probably know the information from all those death certificates you've collected. But what about the other members of your family? Have you provided them with the information? If you are celebrating a Family Thanksgiving, it may be the time to discuss it. If you have older relatives joining you, you can ask questions that may help identify information that is missing from your health history, especially information on aunts, uncles and cousins.

Your medical pedigree doesn't have to be complicated...some people just use a simple spreadsheet to track the information. You might also use the application from the CDC call My Family Health Portrait. The application prompts you through a series of questions and creates reports and charts for you. It is not saved on the server, but downloaded to your computer. If you wish to modify the information, you upload the information to the server, and when you are finished editing, download it again to your computer. If you decide to share it with a family member, they can upload the file, and it re-indexes to make that person the source person so they don't need to recreate the information.

In my lecture on Health History I used to talk about Ancestry Health and MyHeritage Health, but both companies have withdrawn from the health market this year. MyHeritage purchased Promethease and SNPedia this year so something might be coming.

I tested with 23andme back in 2009 and have the information provided at the time, as well as updated reports. My carrier status for Cystic Fibrosis was already known when I tested, but I received additional information on other diseases. I also received information on Wellness and Traits. I was surprised to learn that I was "less likely to be able to match a musical pitch." I'm sure my choral conductor would be surprised at that as well since I have close to perfect pitch! With all of these Pre-Dispositions, Wellness and Traits it's important to read the data report (this is like reading "about the database" as I'm always reminding you). I’m actually one of the 42% that can match a pitch! So the information on traits are based on statistics which, as we know, (looking at polling data) can be wrong. You also might learn information such as the study was based on a particular SNP, but only referred to Asians.

So share your health information with your family this year. You never know, you could save a life!

Happy Hunting (and Happy Family Health History Day). Stay Safe!

If you want to read some of my previous blogs on health history, type the word health in the search box on the line that starts All Posts.

Here's a link to Dr. Thomas Shawker's book, Unlocking Your Genetic History

Check out the Promotions page for special offers. 23andme is currently offering their Health and Ancestry test for $99.

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