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Creating a Medical Family Tree

April 21, 2019

Genetics is one piece of personal health and can help you understand your risk for inherited disease. Creating a simple medical family tree is considered one of the best genetic tests to share with your doctor. Best of all, it's free!


What to Include

Your medical family tree should represent at least 3 generations, from both sides of your family. For each relative, include as much of the following information as possible:

  • Medical conditions (eg, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure) and age at diagnosis
  • Mental health conditions (eg, depression, bipolar disorder, substance use)
  • Pregnancy and childbirth complications
  • If deceased, age and cause of death

It is also helpful to record the ethnicity and country of origin of your ancestors, as some health conditions are more common to certain ethnic groups.

How to Ask

Talking about health history can be a sensitive topic, and some relatives may be unwilling to share. Respect the privacy of your family members and keep their health information confidential. With consent, offer to share the completed tree within your family so everyone can benefit from the information about family health history risk.

Additional Resources

Build a medical family tree on the Surgeon General's My Family Health Portrait that you can save, share, and print.

Genetics Home Reference has information on over 1,200 health conditions with a genetic basis.

The All of Us Research Program will provide the opportunity for participants to receive genetic testing and access to the results.

HeritageQuest, a collection of digitized records ideal for researching and creating your family history, is open to Tennessee residents through Tennessee Electronic Library.