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 (www.nsgc.org).