Our Services : Genetic Counseling

Genetic Counseling

What is Genetic Counseling?

Genetic counseling is the communication process of providing information and support to those with questions or concerns about genetic conditions.  Genetic counselors are health care professionals with specialized graduate degrees in the area of medical genetics. They are board certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. 
The Center for Perinatal Care at Meriter offers prenatal genetic counseling as part of its comprehensive care. Prenatal genetic counselors work as part of the perinatal heath care team providing information and support to those who are pregnant or are considering pregnancy.

Meriter's Prenatal Genetic Counselors:

  • Discuss screening and genetic testing options during pregnancy
  • Review information about genetic conditions, possible birth defects or other risks to the pregnancy
  • Review available options for further health care in a manner that respects the personal and cultural beliefs of the patient or family
  • Provide coordination of follow up care to those patients where a problem in the pregnancy has been identified
  • Identify supportive resources related to genetic conditions or birth defects
  • Serve as patient advocates and support women and families before, during and after pregnancy

Who might consider Genetic Counseling?

Individuals and families may meet with a genetic counselor to discuss or review information such as:
  • Screening and diagnostic testing options available during pregnancy
  • Risks associated with pregnancy in women who are 35 years of age or older
  • Abnormal screening test results
  • Abnormal findings on a prenatal ultrasound
  • CVS or amniocentesis
  • Diagnosis of a birth defect or genetic condition in current pregnancy
  • Previous pregnancy or child with a diagnosis of a birth defect or genetic condition
  • Family or personal history of genetic or inherited disorders (e.g. cystic fibrosis, Down syndrome, sickle cell anemia, or Huntington's disease)
  • Family or personal history of birth defects, mental retardation, spina bifida, cancer, deafness, or other major medical concerns
  • Increased risk for certain genetic conditions because of ethnic background
  • Concerns about pregnancy risks between close (i.e. blood) relatives
  • Risks associated with exposures during pregnancy (e.g. medications, drugs or alcohol, infections, etc.)
  • Risks of maternal health problems during pregnancy (e.g. diabetes, seizures, etc.)
  • History of early infant death, stillbirth or three or more miscarriages
  • Identification of supportive resources

What does Genetic Counseling involve?

Genetic counselors collect, review and discuss relevant family, pregnancy and medical histories. The goal of genetic counseling is to asses a patient’s questions and concerns through discussion and then provide information in a manner that is tailored to and supportive of the patient’s individual needs and background.

How Do I Contact a Genetic Counselor?

If you have additional questions or are interested in learning more about genetic counseling, please contact The Center for Perinatal Care at 608-417-6667. 
**Information adapted from the National Society of Genetic Counselors (