Climb the Kardashian Family Tree

Your family history is important to your health

Did you know that doctors and genetic counselors use a special pedigree diagram to show family history, relationships and medical conditions?

Here’s an example using the Kardashian family.  The diagram shows the dates of birth, the sex (male square, female circle) and marital and sibling relationships. A red line through a symbol is the standard way to indicate that that person has died and their cause of death is given. A filled-in circle indicates that an individual is affected by some disease or medical condition – Kim and her mother Kris both have the skin condition called psoriasis.

More Celebrity Family Trees

President Barack Obama had his last medical check-up almost a year ago. His family tree shows a history of cancer on his mother’s side. Michelle Obama‘s father suffered from multiple sclerosis.

Lady Gaga‘s family tree shows that her aunt Joanne died from the autoimmune disease SLE or lupus at a young age. Last year, Lady Gaga announced that she herself has “borderline” lupus.

Standard pedigree symbols are shown in the diagram to the right.

General, We’re Just Following Orders

Dr. Regina Benjamin, the U.S. Surgeon General (left), recommends that everyone create a Family Health Portrait, keep it updated and take a copy for your doctor the next time you go in for a check-up.

So what runs in your family? Should you be worried about it? Are there any things you can do to prevent a disease or condition from developing? Are there any screening tests that your doctor recommends?

Please have a look at our partner site, Resounding Health, a place where you can collect, organize, personalize, store and share your online research on health and wellness topics.

Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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