THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FAMILY HEALTH TREE A GUIDE FOR PROFESSIONAL USE
A family health tree is a guide to an individual's or family's genetic makeup. Many commondisorders such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and mental illness may have a genetic basis. If you are aware of your patient's family health history, it may be possible to predict, prevent or treathealth problems that have affected previous generations. On the following pages, there is a sample health tree (pedigree) which has been developed from a list of family members and includes importantdetails which may help in diagnosis and prevention. A resource to guide your patients in the collection of their family health information in the form of a table, can be obtained from the Centre forGenetics Education (see below). When your patient provides you with details of their family health history, inheritance patterns can best be seen by converting this information into a pedigree.CONSTRUCTING A PEDIGREE FROM A FAMILY HEALTH TABLE
When drawing a pedigree, start with your patient, then add partner (or partners) and any resulting children, patient's siblings and their children, parentsand partner's parents and grandparents on each side. Try to complete 3 and if possible, 4 generations for each side of the family. Record the date on which the pedigree is drawn and update it as newinformation becomes available. It may not always be possible to complete the pedigree due to adoption, the lack of reliable information or family disruption. It is important to be aware of theseissues in each family. Some common health problems you may wish to explore asthma birth defects blood disorders cancer chromosome disorders cystic fibrosis deafness diabetes epilepsy eye disorders heartdisease high blood pressure high cholesterol infertility kidney disease liver disease mental illness mental retardation miscarriage muscular or skeletal disorders neurological disorders osteoporosis...