The US Surgeon General has declared November as Family Health History Month. This is a national public health campaign, to encourage all Americans to learn more about their family health history.
An Important Initiative
Do you know all of the diseases that run in your family? According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, a recent survey found that 96 percent of Americans believe that knowing their family history is important. Still, while most of us assume that we have a good handle on our family’s health history, this knowledge often only goes back one generation. We typically have a good record of family we’ve known within our own lifetimes, but that may not be enough information.
You may be aware that illnesses such as sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, cancer, diabetes, and many others run in families. Did you know that these diseases could easily skip one or two generations or even more? Therefore, it is especially important to have a comprehensive understanding of the diseases that have affected any members of your family, beyond your own parents or grandparents. If you are planning on having children, you need this information about your partner’s family health history as well.
Cord Blood for Genetic Diseases
Umbilical cord blood is currently being used to treat more than 80 diseases and disorders, including some of the rare diseases that can travel down family lines. If you know your family’s health history, it will help you to make a decision about whether or not you should store your newborn’s cord blood at birth. The stem cells from this cord blood could be used to treat future diseases that could impact your family.
Take the first step by understanding your complete family health history. Download this free tool to record your family’s health history at https://familyhistory.hhs.gov/FHH/html/index.html