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 and are 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. 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. Genetic counselors discuss testing options, review information about risks to the pregnancy, provide care coordination, identify supportive resources, and ultimately serve as patient advocates.
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 blood screening or ultrasound test results
Diagnosis of a genetic condition or birth defect 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 conditions (e.g. Down syndrome or cystic fibrosis)
Family or personal history of birth defects, cognitive disability, cancer, 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
Risks of maternal health problems during pregnancy (e.g. diabetes, seizures, etc.)
History of early infant death, stillbirth or three or more miscarriages
Testing Options During Pregnancy
The decision to pursue testing during a pregnancy is a personal choice. Some common tests that may be discussed include the Cystic Fibrosis Carrier Testing, First Trimester Screen, Noninvasive Prenatal Testing (NIPT), Targeted Ultrasound, Chorionic Villus Sampling (CVS), and Amniocentesis.