Health Questions Women Need to Ask Their Moms

Early Show - Dr. Jennifer Ashton - Female Symbol CBS / iStock Photo

Most women know their mom's medical history can provide important clues to her own. But what exactly do you need to know?

Special Section: Dr. Jennifer Ashton
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In honor of Mother's Day, CBS News Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton shared four important questions n "The Early Show"Friday that women should ask their moms to get a better idea of their own health:

What's Your Mom's Medical History?"
Your health won't mirror your mom's exactly, but her genes and medical history do leave their mark on yours.

Interestingly enough, most people don't know their own family history. We are saying like mother, like daughter. Also like father, like son. You want to know your family medical history. Most people don't.

A survey from the U.S. Surgeon General found that only one-third of Americans have ever tried to gather and write down their family's health history. It's a question doctors often ask, and you should be prepared to answer these questions.

Most specifically, if you have any of these diseases in your family history, you should take note:

Cancer
While not all breast cancer patients have a family history of the disease, having a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer about doubles a woman's risk. Ovarian cancer can also run in families -- grandmothers, mothers, sisters. Talk to your paternal grandmother too because increased risks for ovarian cancer can also come from your father's side.

You should be aware of cancer and in past generations. A lot of moms didn't talk about cancers like breast cancer, uterine cancer, they was taboo. If your mom had a cancer, any type, ask specifics. What type, how was it treated? When was it diagnosed?

Heart Disease and Stroke
Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women. Stroke is the No. 4 killer of women. If high blood pressure -- a risk factor -- runs in the family, it's important for women to take note.

Diabetes
Gestational diabetes, which develops when you're pregnant, affects about seven percent of all U.S. pregnancies. Gestational diabetes risks are heightened when there is a family history of diabetes, especially on their mother's side. Women who have had gestational diabetes pass on obesity and Type 2 diabetes risk to their children.

How Difficult was Your Pregnancy?
Learn if your mother had any experience with miscarriages, a family history of twins or preeclampsia.

If your mother had preeclampsia -- swelling and high blood pressure accompanied with a high level of protein in the urine during pregnancy -- it could lead to premature births. If your mom or even sister has it, it could increase your risk.

Did she have morning sickness? A new study published by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health in Oslo says that daughters of women who suffered from severe morning sickness were three times more likely to have it.

When Did You Start Getting Hot Flashes?
The average age of when a woman enters menopause is 51, but the range is between 45 and 55. But, if your mom or sister went through premature or early menopause, you could have higher chances of earlier menopause. How old was she and how severe were her hot flashes?

How Much Has Your Height Changed?
Osteoporosis -- weak and brittle bones -- is a big health topic for women. Women are four times more likely to get it than men. If your mother or relative has osteoporosis, you're at higher risk, especially if you have a family history of fractures
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