Thanksgiving is Family Health History Day

Knowing your risks today can lead to a healthier tomorrow

SPRINGFIELD–(ENEWSPF)–November 26, 2013.  As many families gather for Thanksgiving, the conversation often drifts toward talking about traits and characteristics that run in their family, such as eye and hair color. This year, Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck encourages families to also talk about health conditions that run in the family as part of the Nation’s 10th annual Family Health History Day.

“Diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer can run in families,” said Dr. Hasbrouck. “While you can’t change your family health history, you can take steps to reduce your disease risk. Knowing your family health history can help you and your health care provider predict your risk for health problems and identify screening and treatment options. It is also a good time to talk with your family about health insurance and coverage of many inherited health conditions under the Affordable Care Act.”

Under the Affordable Care Act (visit, many preventive screenings will be covered, allowing health care providers to diagnose health problems in the early stages when they are easier to treat.

Topics you can ask your closest family members about (those related by blood) include:

Birth defects and childhood health problems

Any common adult diseases (heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, arthritis)

Age at death

Cause of death

For more information about sharing family health history, go to Another resource is the Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait, a free and easy way to record family health information that can be shared with family members and health care professionals.

Encouraging families to learn their health aligns the Illinois Department of Public Health with its strategic plan to become the state’s public health authority, a place where Illinoisans can turn for health information and education. For a copy of the strategic plan, go to