If you are planning to have a baby and have a personal or family history of certain genetic diseases, you may wish to consider genetic counseling. The ideal time to consider counseling is before you become pregnant (preconception counseling). However, even if you are pregnant, you may benefit from genetic counseling.
Genetic counselors are health professionals with a graduate degree in medical genetics and counseling. They are experienced in answering a family’s many questions clearly and thoroughly, and take the time to discuss problems a baby may face — all with compassion and caring.
Sometimes, the worries and questions about genetic conditions, birth defects and other potential problems with a baby’s health are overwhelming. A genetic counselor can help you make decisions about genetic testing and pregnancy. The counselor will help you gain a basic understanding of genetics and disease and help you understand that your child may — or may not — be born with a certain birth defect or genetic condition.
The genetic counselor will ask you questions about your family medical history and your own medical history. The counselor will assess how this information may affect your children and help you understand any risks of occurrence or recurrence of a condition.
Anyone who is concerned about diseases or traits in the family should consider genetic counseling and testing.
Prenatal screening tests can provide people with information about the likelihood for certain birth defects and/or chromosomal abnormalities in their baby. These tests typically involve blood draws and/or ultrasounds during pregnancy. There are no major risks to the mother or baby with a screening test. These tests do not provide definitive results.
Prenatal diagnostic tests include chorionic villus sampling (CVS) and amniocentesis. They can provide definitive information about the baby’s chromosomes and/or other genetic conditions. These tests involve inserting a thin needle through the woman’s abdomen. In some instances, CVS may involve inserting a catheter through the woman’s cervix. These tests have some risks, the most significant of which is miscarriage.
Most people with Down syndrome are the first member in their family to have this condition. Down syndrome is not typically passed on in a family. So, people without a family history of Down syndrome may still have a baby with Down syndrome. The biggest risk factor for having a baby with Down syndrome is the age of the woman. As a woman’s age increases, the chance for having a baby with Down syndrome increases. Rarely, people may have a strong family history of Down syndrome and/or multiple miscarriages. These people may be at greater risk for having a baby with Down syndrome. [/toggle][toggle type=”3″ title=”
Coverage varies by insurance company. Please be sure to check with your insurance company prior to your appointment regarding coverage of consultations with our genetic counselors.
During a genetic counseling visit, you will receive information about a variety of prenatal testing options. Some of these options do not have major risks to mother or baby. A genetic counselor will not require you to have any testing you do not want. Rather, a genetic counselor will provide you with complete information about testing options so you can make decisions that are right for you and your family.