Genetics and Genetic Counseling
Genetic counselors have special training and board certification to help individuals and families cope with and understand birth defects, genetic conditions and available testing options. Our genetic counselors work together with you and our maternal fetal medicine team to discuss birth defects, explain complex genetic information, provide support and help you make informed decisions.
Here are a few types of patients who have found it useful to meet with a genetic counselor:
- Prospective parents, as a step to get ready for a healthy pregnancy and baby (such as screening for genetic conditions)
- Individuals who have concerns about an inherited disorder or birth defect
- Women who are pregnant, or planning to be, after age 35
- Patients with a family history of an inherited disorder, intellectual disabilities or a birth defect.
- Individuals who have had a baby die shortly after delivery or in the first years of life
- Individuals who have had multiple miscarriages and/or infertility
- Individuals concerned that their jobs, lifestyles or medical history may pose a risk to outcome of pregnancy; common causes of concern include exposure to radiation, medications, drugs, chemicals or infections
- Individuals who would like carrier screening for genetic conditions.
- Couples who are close blood relatives, such as cousins.
- Pregnant women whose ultrasound examinations or test results indicate that their pregnancy may be at increased risk for certain complications, inherited disorders, or birth defects.
Why genetic counseling is useful
This brief checklist notes reasons why patients have found it useful to meet with a genetic counselor:
- Have you recently received information about an increased risk for certain complications, genetic conditions or birth defects in your pregnancy based upon an ultrasound or test results?
- Are you getting contemplating starting a family and want to learn more about steps to assist in having a healthy pregnancy and baby (such as screening for genetic conditions, medications you may be taking, etc)?
- Do you have concerns about a personal or family history of an inherited disorder, birth defect or intellectual delay?
- Are you 35 years or older in your current pregnancy? Or will be in a future pregnancy?
- Have you or your partner had a baby die shortly after delivery or in the first years of life?
- Have you or your partner had multiple miscarriages and/or infertility.
- Do you or your partner have concerns that a job, lifestyle or medical history may pose a risk to outcome of pregnancy? Common causes of concern include exposure to radiation, medications, drugs, chemicals or infections.
- Are you and your partner close blood relatives, such as cousins?
- Have you or your partner been told that you have a higher risk to have a child with a genetic condition?
What might occur during a genetic counseling appointment?
1. Evaluation of personal and family history information to determine the chance for an underlying genetic condition, birth defect and/or pregnancy complication.
2. If a specific condition is of concern, you can expect to learn more about the condition, the risks to family members, available testing, treatment options and resources.
3. If there is a concern about screening test results, exposures or age related risk, you can expect to learn more about the level of risk and available testing options, including their benefits, risks and limitations.
4. If either screening or testing is completed as part of your visit, you will be notified of the results by a Minnesota Perinatal genetic counselor as soon as they become available.
5. We hope to ensure all your questions are addressed and that you are aware of all options, treatments, and support services relevant and available to issues of concern.
Genetic counseling services are designed to provide information that can empower you and help decide what options, treatments or available services, if any, are right for you based upon your own personality, beliefs, needs and values.