Do I need a genetic counselor?

December 01, 2012

Meeting with a genetic counselor can be very helpful for pregnant patients with a family history of inherited disorders. But the best time to seek a genetic assessment is before conception. This allows couples and individuals the time they need to explore their pregnancy-related options and plan a course of action.

If patients learn prior to pregnancy that they and/or their partner are at high risk for having a child with severe disabilities, the couple may elect in vitro fertilization in which only healthy embryos are implanted in the uterus. They can also use donor sperm or donor eggs, or decide to adopt. If the statistical odds of having a baby with an inherited disease are moderate, a couple may decide to pursue their dream of having a baby. In this case, a genetic counselor will help educate potential parents about tests they can have to monitor the fetus’s progress and steps they can take to ensure a good outcome.

In other situations involving a pregnancy in which an inherited disease was not anticipated, genetic counselors can share a wealth of information with patients to help them decide their next step. These compassionate and highly knowledgeable professionals may present several different options, but will not recommend a specific course of action. They know that each family is unique and what works for one may not be right for another.

Learn more about Genetic Testing and Counseling ›

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