What is the Purpose of Genetic Counseling?
Genetic counseling is often utilized at various stages of life. It can be used if a child is showing signs or symptoms of a disorder that may be genetic, and to determine if someone should receive genetic testing for a condition that may increase their risk of developing certain diseases or cancers. When utilized during early pregnancy, genetic counseling can guide you towards certain tests that may need to be done during your pregnancy or conditions that may affect your baby once they are born. Meeting with a prenatal genetic counselor at NJPA will allow you and your family to learn more about potential conditions and discuss further options for prenatal screening and testing. If there is a chance of your baby developing a genetic condition, additional blood tests and ultrasounds may be necessary as well. In general, your genetic counselor will help you to understand your unique situation, what to expect during your pregnancy, and how to prepare for the birth of your baby.
Who Should Consider Prenatal Genetic Counseling in NJ?
If you have any concerns about your personal or family medical history or your child being born with a genetic condition, you should speak to your doctor about genetic counseling. Those who fall under certain categories are also often candidates for genetic counseling, as their baby may be at a higher risk for developing an inherited condition. NJ Perinatal Associates recommends prenatal genetic counseling if you:
- Are a woman who will be 35 or older when your child is born
- Are a couple who are first cousins
- Have received abnormal results from a genetic screening or diagnostic test
- Have a family history of inherited disorders, birth defects, or mental retardation
- Are a woman who has experienced two or more unexplained miscarriages or early infant death
- Are a man with congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (CBAVD)
What Does Prenatal Genetic Testing at NJPA Include?
At New Jersey Perinatal Associates, our genetic counselors work with patients to give them the information they need about their pregnancy and the likelihood that their baby will be born with a genetic condition. Genetic counseling at NJPA includes the following steps.
Review of Medical History
Your genetic counseling appointment will begin with a complete review of your medical history, your partner’s medical history, and your overall family health history going as far back as possible. This will help your genetic counselor to identify any patterns or inherited disorders that are present in your family. The conversation may also include a discussion of any toxic substances you may have been exposed to before your pregnancy, as well as medications you are taking.
After reviewing your prenatal genetic questionnaire and medical history, your genetic counselor will construct a generational family tree that delves into all medical history that may be inherited. Upon review with the patient to confirm that all medical history is correct, the genetic counselor will utilize standard genetic analysis to determine the risk that your child may be affected by a birth defect or a genetic condition.
Discussion of Testing Options
Once a determination is made of the inherent risks, your genetic counselor at NJPA will discuss the testing options available to you during your pregnancy, along with the risks, benefits, and limitations associated with each type of testing. In addition, your genetic counselor will provide resources, both in print and online, that will aid in your decision to further explore genetic testing.