Genetic Counselors are an important part of the decision-making process for pre-natal testing. Our board-certified genetic counselors evaluate the medical and family histories of patients to find out if there is an increased chance of birth defects or other problems. We will also explain the testing options, benefits and risks of testing and reasons why patients choose or decline to have testing. The genetic counselors, in conjunction with the physicians, provide follow-up for patients to discuss their individual test results.
Genetic counselors work with patients and families that may be at risk for an abnormal pregnancy outcome. They help educate patients about specific birth defects or conditions that may affect their children, and they provide information that helps families make decisions about pregnancy and childcare. Genetic counselors can also discuss the benefits and risks of available testing options, and can help individuals decide what, if any, testing they would like to pursue.
Genetic Counselors are specialized health professionals that discuss with patients about genetic risks, explain genetic concepts, available testing and address psychological issues associated with these topics. Pre-natal genetic counselors deal specifically with patients who are pregnant or are planning a pregnancy that have genetic risks that could affect their future offspring.
Is Genetic Counseling for You?
Anyone that has questions about their pregnancy risks, testing options, or previous test results should consider genetic counseling.
When a problem is diagnosed, genetic counselors can help provide emotional support and understanding, as well as information to help the patient understand the new diagnosis and what it means in practical terms.
Reasons for Genetic Counseling
- Pregnant women or women planning a pregnancy at or over age 35 (advanced maternal age).
- Women that are pregnant or considering pregnancy that have been diagnosed with a medical condition or inherited disorder (seizures, bipolar, kidney disease, Lupus, blood clots, heart disease, etc.)
- Couples who are pregnant or considering pregnancy who have a previous child, or a family history, of birth defects or certain genetic conditions.
- Couples with unexplained infertility, recurrent (two or more) miscarriages, or babies who died in infancy.
- People concerned that their jobs, lifestyles, or medical history may pose a risk to pregnancy, including exposure to medications, drugs, radiation, chemicals, or infections.
- Pregnant women who, based on blood tests, have been told their pregnancy may be at increased risk for complications or birth defects.
- Pregnant women who have an abnormality discovered by ultrasound.
What to expect at a genetic counseling appointment?
- Discuss personal medical history and current medications.
- Review previous pregnancy history.
- Record and assess family medical history (parents, grandparents, or siblings with birth defects, heart disease, diabetes, or other diagnosed medical conditions).
- Assess risk factors and discuss available testing options and prenatal services.
- Discuss inheritance patterns of specific conditions or traits and the recurrence risk for other pregnancies.
- Explain previous test results or ultrasound findings.
- Help patients decide which tests to choose or decline during pregnancy.
- Arrange follow-up appointments or schedule consults with specialists, such as a cardiologist.
- In the occasional case of bad news, discuss prognosis of the condition and provide educational resources and support group information.