FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE             Connecticut Department of Public Health

May 20, 2009                                               Contact: William Gerrish

                                                                     (860) 509-7270


Hartford – The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) is encouraging senior citizens to talk with their family members about health conditions that run in their families, and to enter the information into a “Family Health History.”


“Knowing your family health history is an important way to understand your risk factors and the preventive steps you can take to keep you and your family healthy,” said DPH Commissioner Dr. J. Robert Galvin.


Family elders may know about health conditions and causes of death in their families that are unknown to their children and grandchildren.  Collecting, recording and sharing this information may benefit the health and well-being of future generations.  A few important aspects for seniors to discuss are health problems they have or their ancestors had in the past, the age and cause of death for deceased family members, and lifestyle habits.  Prompting family members to get regular screenings and engage in healthy behavior can contribute to healthier lives.


According to state health officials, most diseases are due to the interactions of multiples genes and environmental factors.  The DPH Family Health Initiative provides an accessible method for easily obtaining an accurate family health history, and, for using that information in health promotion and disease prevention. Although sophisticated genetic testing and other related advances have the potential to change dramatically how health care is practiced, the family health history allows genetic information to be used today to improve health.


The Family Health History Initiative provides a free, easy-to-use, web-based family history tool, “My Family Health Portrait.”  The tool is available in English and Spanish, and in print by request at the U.S. Surgeon general’s web site –( ).  A “Family Health History Workbook” with additional information on some common diseases that run within families is available on the DPH web site at


The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state.  To contact the department, please visit its website at or call (860) 509-7270.