"Americans Urged to Start the Conversation About Their Family"
ACMG Media Contact: Kathy Beal, 301-238-4582 firstname.lastname@example.org Americans Urged to Start the Conversation About Their Family Medical History on National Family History Day – Thanksgiving 2006 American College of Medical Genetics Offers Free List of Questions to Start the Conversation About Family Medical History This Thanksgiving is the third annual National Family History Day, as declared by the U.S. Surgeon General. The American College of Medical Genetics encourages every American to know their family medical history and if they haven’t already gathered this potentially life-saving information, to Start the Conversation About Family Medical History this Thanksgiving. “Many Americans know that their family medical history is important. However with daily life demands and families often separated by many miles, most of us have not gathered what could be THE most important tool in protecting our health – our family health history,” says Marilyn C. Jones, MD, president of the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG). Why is family health history so important? Advances in genetics research mean that knowing your family’s medical history can help your healthcare provider to predict conditions for which you and your blood relatives may be at risk and to help you to take actions to minimize risks and protect your health. “That’s why we have put together a list of 5 questions that can be the important first step in gathering your family’s medical history, starting this Thanksgiving Day when many families are gathered under one roof,” said Michael S. Watson, PhD, Executive Director of the ACMG. “Some families may already be collecting genealogic information but haven’t gathered details about health history, so this will need to be added to the family tree. And, should a concern be identified as families begin this important conversation, it should be discussed with a healthcare provider, who can make a referral to a medical genetics professional if necessary.” “Gathering, recording and sharing your family medical history with your relatives and care providers is an ongoing process as well as an important health habit that will help you to prepare for the personalized medicine revolution of the 21st century. By ‘starting the conversation’ and beginning the process this Thanksgiving, our hope at ACMG is that lives will be saved and health problems for the future can be reduced,” said genetic counselor, Judith Benkendorf, MS, CGC, Project Manager at The American College of Medical Genetics. Five Questions to START THE CONVERSATION About Family Health History This Thanksgiving from The American College of Medical Genetics: 1. Are there any health problems that are known to run in our family, or that close relatives have been told are genetic? If so, what are these conditions? 2. Is there anyone in the family who had cancer, heart disease, or other adult-onset health problem at an early age, such as between 20 and 50? 3. Does/did anyone in the family have mental retardation, learning problems, or have to go to special school? 4. Have there been any early deaths in the family, including stillbirths, infant deaths, multiple miscarriages, or shortened lifespan? 5. Have any relatives had extreme, unexpected or reactions to medications or therapy? In addition, there are a variety of useful, important and easy-to-use tools in several languages available to people to then further the gathering of family medical history including: The U.S. Surgeon General’s Family History Initiative – My Health Portrait: http://familyhistory.hhs.gov/ The U.S. Surgeon General’s Retrato de Salud de mi Familia (Spanish): http://www.hhs.gov/familyhistory/download_spanish.html Multilingual versions of the U.S. Surgeon General’s Family History Tool in Chinese, Polish, Spanish, French and Portuguese are available at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital National Family Health Initiative Website at - http://www.brighamandwomens.org/FamilyHistory/PDFTools/FamilyHistoryTools.aspx Instructions on Drawing a Family Tree and Collecting a Family History are provided by the American Society of Human Genetics: http://www.ashg.org/genetics/ashg/educ/007.shtml Frequently Asked Questions About Family Health History: http://www.hhs.gov/familyhistory/docs/FAQs.pdf Find a Genetic Counselor Near You: http://www.nsgc.org/resourcelink.cfm About the American College of Medical Genetics (ACMG) Founded in 1991, the American College of Medical Genetics (www.acmg.net) is advancing the practice of medical genetics and provides education, resources and a voice for 1400 biochemical, clinical, cytogenetic, medical and molecular geneticists, genetic counselors and other health care professionals committed to the practice of medical genetics. ACMG’s activities include the development of laboratory and practice standards and guidelines, advocating for genetic services in health care and in public health, and promoting the development of methods to diagnose, treat and prevent genetic disease. Genetics in Medicine, published monthly, is the official ACMG peer- reviewed journal. Its website (www.acmg.net) offers a variety of resources including Policy Statements and Practice Guidelines, Educational Resources, and a Medical Geneticist Locator. -end-