Your genes are like family heirlooms: They get passed on from generation to generation. Everyone’s heard the phrase “it runs in the family,” but not everyone has considered what this actually means.
Learning about your family health history is a lot like putting together your family tree, only you do it through the lens of health and medical stories. Knowing about things that “run in your family” can be valuable knowledge for both you and the generations that come after you.
The CDC has a great, web-based program that helps you build your family health tree, or as genetic counselors call it, your “pedigree.” Check out: My Family Health Portrait
If pen and paper are more your style, the Genetic Alliance and colleagues have a wonderful guide called “ Does It Run in the Family ” (PDF) with advice and stories for how to gather family health stories, and examples of how to draw your own family tree.