Couples and fetuses can now be tested for certain inherited disorders, such as cystic fibrosis, as well as other chromosomal and genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome.
If your health history or a prenatal screening test reveals a possible risk to your baby, your health care provider will recommend genetic counseling to get information about possible concerns with your pregnancy.
Our genetic counselors are masters-level experts in genetics, but also people who are skilled in explaining the complex and sometimes confusing area of genetic medicine in terms that are easy for you to understand.
Our genetic counselors are here to:
- Explain testing options, along with potential risks
- Address the complex emotional implications of genetic conditions, testing options and screening
- Coordinate appropriate genetic testing and screening
- Help you adapt to the testing results and provide emotional support and understanding
During your consultation, your genetic counselor will:
- Take a pregnancy history and detailed, directed family history.
- Discuss the chances of having a baby with a birth defect based on the parents’ ethnic background, the mother's age and pregnancy history, the results of any blood tests or ultrasounds, family histories, and any medication or infection exposures.
- Discuss all the options for learning about the baby's health before birth, including whether or not a family would choose to have tests such as ultrasound, blood tests, specialized genetic tests, chorionic villus sampling or amniocentesis when indicated.
- Make sure you understand the benefits and disadvantages of the different prenatal tests and what kind of information is learned about the baby's health from each test.
- Help you make decisions about prenatal testing that are informed and appropriate for you and your family.
- Help you understand how the pregnancy and your baby's health will be affected by any birth defect or genetic condition that is diagnosed.
Your genetic counselor will present a summary of all the options available. You may decide to accept the risk and have no future testing, proceed to diagnostic testing, or take further diagnostic tests to refine the risk.
There is no right or wrong answer, only the best answer for your family. Your genetic counselor will focus on the importance of individual choice based on the experiences, morals, and viewpoints of the expectant parents and their family.
For more information, and to best prepare you for a discussion with your provider, please first watch this video, created by our own genetic counselors.
When to Get Genetic Counseling
Genetic counseling is not necessary for the majority of pregnancies. It should be considered by couples who have one or more of the following risk factors:
- Abnormal results from routine prenatal testing.
- Amniocentesis results which identify a chromosomal defect.
- An inherited disease present in a close family member.
- A child with either a birth defect or genetic disorder.
- Prior pregnancies that ended in miscarriage or the baby died in infancy.
- The mother is over 35 years old.
- The mother or father is a member of an ethnic group that has a great chance of certain genetic defects, such as African Americans and sickle cell anemia, Central or Eastern European Jews and Tay-Sachs disease, or people of Italian, Greek or Middle Eastern descent and thalassemia.
Maternal-Fetal Medicine Services
EvergreenHealth Medical Center - Tan 240
Appointments are available Monday-Friday from 7:30am-4pm.