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Center for Congenital and Inherited Disorders

Family Health History Initiative


What is family history? Family history can be defined as a family's combination of shared genes, environment, behaviors and culture. Why should you determine your family's health history? A family health history can:

  • Help you learn about diseases or conditions that you may be at an increased risk for developing;
  • Point out behaviors (smoking, inactivity) or environmental exposures (secondhand smoke, farm chemicals) that may be increasing your risk for disease and that should be changed; and
  • Help you take advantage of appropriate screening tests (genetic testing, mammography, colonoscopy, blood pressure checks) that may detect problems early.

The U. S. Surgeon General's Family Health History Initiative has developed a family health history tool that can help you collect information about your family health history. U.S. Surgeon General's Family Health History Initiative. This website offers two different types of tools - one in a downloadable electronic form that you can put on your own computer and update as needed, or hard copy forms in English or Spanish that you may print off to use.

The Genetic Alliance also offers family health history tools on their website that are customizable for different communities and cultures.

The resources on this page can help you get started in determining your or your patient's family health history.