The Norman Transcript

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February 10, 2006

Including medical details in family histories

When a family member recently was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, the doctor told them the disease is hereditary, and it was passed down to their generation by a family member.

We thought of every family member who might have had the symptoms, but none came to mind. The disease could skip a generation, but an older family member could fill in those gaps when determining whether anyone had the disease. There would be little medical history for an ancestor who died early in life, and that person possibly could be the carrier.

Many genealogists have made medical history as important in their research as vital statistics and traditions. It is an important part of our family history to keep track of all diseases and especially those diseases that are hereditary. Include hearing losses and eye diseases when compiling your medical history.???

The latest thing in family reunions is those reunions where medical history is discussed and compared by those attending.

You might think this is a dull way to spend a day, talking about your "aches and pains," but it could prove to be very important when there is a disease that can be stopped with the right medication.

There are several Web sites that can help the researcher set up his or her medical history. The Web site, "About," includes parenting, genealogy, DNA, health and genetics and health history (All in the Family -- Tracing your Medical History).

The Web site can be accessed at http://genealogy.about.com/od/health_history/a/medical.htm.

The Mayo Clinic's Web site at www.mayoclinic.com/ health/medical-history/HQ 01707 gives instructions on how to compile your medical history.?

As genealogists we are aware of the procedures used to compile our family history. Compiling the medical history almost is the same.

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