Should You Consider Genetic Counseling?

Genetic counseling is becoming a big part of preconception care. Not only are couples making an effort to get healthier before conceiving a baby but they are also thinking about genetic factors that may affect their not-yet-conceived child.

What Is Genetic Counseling?

Genetic counseling refers to a consultation with a genetics professional who can help you diagnose any potential genetic risk factors that may affect your baby. The first step is to speak to your doctor about your own medical history as well as that of your partner because it can help your doctor determine whether or not there is an increased risk of problems that needs to be looked into further.

More attention has been given to genetics since their link to cancers have been making the headlines. For instance, the BRCA genes (breast cancer gene) that can determine whether or not a woman has a likelihood of developing breast cancer. There are also others to consider, such as single gene disorders that run in families, such as sickle cell anaemia and cystic fibrosis and even chromosomal disorders.

Why You Might Want to Consider Genetic Counseling

If you or your partner has a family history of cancer or birth defects then you should speak to your doctor who will likely refer you for genetic counseling. This is especially important if you have already had a child who suffered a birth defect with a possible genetic link. Women over 35 who are planning to get pregnant are commonly referred to genetic counselors because of the increased risk of birth defects.

Other circumstances that may warrant genetic counseling include those related to ethnicity as there are certain ethnicities that are considered high risk for some conditions. Women who have experienced more than two pregnancy losses may also be referred to genetic counseling in order to help rule out or diagnose a genetic reason for the miscarriages or still births.

Genetic counseling as a part of your preconception care can help you and your partner to better understand the risks and know how to proceed with your plans for pregnancy and the possible complications that may arise as a result of genetics. If you are at risk of passing on a genetic disease to your baby then it’s important to understand as much as possible about what can or will happen during your pregnancy and after.

And, though not as common as it was long ago, genetic counseling is important for any couples who are related by blood and planning on having a baby together.

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