It is very appropriate that National Family Health History Day should be on Thanksgiving, when many people are surrounded by their family of origin. Often the answers to health questions is sitting across the table cutting the turkey!
Since 2004, every year the U.S. Surgeon General has declared National Family Health History Day to be acknowledged on Thanksgiving Day. Acting Surgeon General Rear Admiral Boris D. Lushniak, M.D., M.P.H. made 2014 the 11th year for this event.
He wants Americans to use the Thanksgiving holiday, or any time when family gathers together, to talk about health issues that run in the family.
It is important to keep a record of these conversations too, because that information could be useful immediately or years from now and everyone does not always have the same memory over time (or after a huge turkey dinner).
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 96 percent of Americans think it is important to know their family history. However, most people have not put that belief into practice. In fact, less than one-third of Americans have even attempted to compile a written family health history.
To help make it easier, the Surgeon General has released a free resource My Family Health Portrait to encourage Americans to collect their family health history and share it through a secured system.
In a press release about the My Family Health Portrait, Acting Surgeon General Lushniak said that his office is trying to take steps to make it easier for Americans to prevent serious diseases and conditions within their families.
For those people who no longer have blood relatives living to ask family health questions, there are now companies producing in-home genetic screening kits that may be able to give users family health history feedback they otherwise may not know.
JScreen is one of those companies. It is a not-for-profit at-home education and carrier screening program designed for Jewish genetic diseases.