Prenatal Genetic Counseling

Prenatal Genetic Counseling

Every mother-to-be understands there are inherent risks in pregnancy and birth. Thankfully, most of the risks are minimal, and most babies are born completely healthy. Occasionally, the risk for a genetic disease or birth defect is a reality. In those cases, prenatal genetic counseling services at the Greenwood Genetic Center can help.

Prenatal genetic counseling is a field of genetics that focuses on caring for families with concerns about the health of their unborn baby. A prenatal genetic counselor can suggest the appropriate tests for correct diagnosis as well as offer education, resources and support.

Reasons for Prenatal Genetic Counseling Referral

Appointments for counseling are made by referral from a healthcare professional. In some cases, symptoms experienced during pregnancy will prompt an obstetrician to refer the patient to GGC for a genetic consultation. Another reason for referral is if one or both of the parents-to-be have a family history of genetic disorder and want genetic counseling before deciding to have children. Specific concerns are not limited to, but may include:

  • Maternal age of 35 or older at delivery.
  • Couples with a family history of genetic disorder.
  • Positive prenatal screening test results.
  • Couples from an ethnic background known to be at higher risk for genetic disorders (such as sickle cell anemia or Tay Sachs disease).
  • Prenatal ultrasound findings.
  • Personal history of two or more pregnancy losses.
  • Family history of birth defects, a genetic disorder or intellectual disabilities.
  • Couples who are blood relatives.
  • Prenatal exposure to illegal drugs, alcohol, chemicals, infections or certain medications.

How to Prepare for Prenatal Genetic Counseling

The first thing to remember if you are referred for prenatal genetic counseling, is that a counseling appointment is only the first step in the process of confirming a diagnosis or detecting a complication. During your counseling session, your counselor will review your family, personal health and pregnancy history. He or she will explain any risks or conditions and help guide you through the testing process, if tests are offered.

At the Greenwood Genetic Center, our prenatal genetic counselors are health professionals with expertise in the field of prenatal medical genetics. They work closely with OB-GYNs and maternal fetal medicine specialists and, like all of our staff, genetic counselors and clinicians at GGC, are committed to patient care.

Follow these suggestions to help your counseling appointment go more smoothly:

  • Bring a list of all prescription medications, supplements and medications you take.
  • Be prepared to answer questions about your family’s health history.
  • Family photos may help your counselor recognize patterns of genetic conditions in your family.

For more information about prenatal genetic counseling, please read our patient education brochures: Prenatal Genetic Counseling and Prenatal Screening and Testing.

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One Mother's Story

After a long three-year struggle trying to have children, our son, Charlie, was born on April 18, 2009. He was our miracle...perfect in every way! When Charlie was five days old, our pediatrician called to notify us that one of the numbers from the heel prick test was a bit high. We headed to the hospital that afternoon for more tests. I will never forget the following day. It was cool and crisp - not a cloud in the sky. The next thing I know, our ...

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