Learn more about your family health history this Thanksgiving



AKRON, Ohio(Nov. 12, 2013)– Thanksgiving is a wonderful time for relaxing with family, eating delicious food, catching up and sharing memories. It also is a great time, when close relatives are gathered around the table, to explore your family health history.

 This is why the U.S. Surgeon General declared Thanksgiving “National Family History Day” in November 2004.

 “Genetic disorders as a group are more common than one thinks, even common diseases like cancer often have genetic roots,” said Catherine Melver, M.D., a geneticist at Akron Children’s Hospital. “For instance, people with close family members with breast cancer may have increased cancer risks themselves.”

Medical geneticists and genetic counselors can help people with a family history raising a genetic concern clarify their specific risks, but first they need an accurate understanding of their family health history.

“It helps to ask several relatives in different generations about family history,” said Dr. Melver. “Doctors are generally more concerned about diseases that occur in more than one close relative.”

Dr. Melver recommends that family members ask each other the following questions to find out more about possible health risks:

The U.S. Surgeon General has developed a web-based tool for organizing and  updating family health history (

With easy-to-follow instructions in English or Spanish, up to three generations of family health history can be entered and organized in a chart format or traditional family tree design. The health history should then be printed and shared with a family physician. If the doctor finds reason for concern, he may refer you to a genetics specialist.

The Genetic Center at Akron Children's Hospital helps individuals and families understand the role of genetics in their lives as it relates to their health. Genetic services may include diagnosis, genetic counseling, and information and support for persons at risk for birth defects or inherited disorders.

Call 330-543-8792 or visit www.akronchildrens.orgfor more information or to set up an appointment.


Learn more about your family health history this Thanksgiving

Dr. Catherine Melver

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While you pass the gravy & fill up on stuffing, gather some critical family health history

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