Family History Affects Your Health

An article in the May/June issue of Family Tree Magazine entitled “Family Medicine” points out that genes determine much more than just our physical traits. Although environment and lifestyle influence health, family history plays a major role in our risk of many medical conditions. I know this all too well. I’ve had much earlier colon cancer screening because my father had colon cancer. As a preventative I’m also more aware of my diet.

“Family Medicine” lists nine resources to keep careful records of your family’s health history and traits. Working with your doctor, you can trace your family medical history and any health disorders/conditions/illness/disease that may run in your family. This will help you work to minimize your risk of developing these. Your health history should include information for at least three generations of all branches of family, as well as other information:

  1. Family Interviews
  2. Death records
  3. Obituaries – Search America’s Obituaries & Death Notices or Request an obituary for a person who lived in Topeka or Shawnee County
  4. Funeral Home Records
  5. U.S. Federal Censuses – Search HeritageQuest
  6. DDD Censuses – The 1880 U.S. Census included questions for individuals with specific health or economic conditions. You can view the 1880 Schedules of Defective, Dependent and Delinquent (DDD) classes for 21 states at the library through Ancestry Library Edition. This is one of the few databases that can only be accessed at the library.
  7. Mortality Schedules
  8. State Censuses
  9. Institutional Records

Check out the article to learn more about the above resources and personal and anecdotal examples. The article also includes are helpful websites, links and resources to aid in your research. I would call this a vital read for us all. Please access the article, “Family Medicine” in Family Tree Magazine at Flipster. Also review all the resources available from your library.

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I have worked in the library's Public Services Department for almost 16 years, a time of much learning and growth. In my spare time, I am an enthusiastic traveler, reader and writer.