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About Genetic Counselors
Genetic counselors are professionals who have completed a master's program in medical genetics and counseling skills. They then pass a certification exam administered by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.
Meeting With a Genetic Counselor
Before you meet with our genetic counselor, please gather information about your family history. The counselor will want to know of any relatives with genetic disorders, multiple miscarriages, and early or unexplained deaths. The counselor will also want to look over your medical records, including any ultrasounds, prenatal test results, past pregnancies, and medications you may have taken before or during pregnancy. During the session, you'll go over any gaps or potential problem areas in your family or medical history. The counselor can help you understand the inheritance patterns of any potential disorders and help assess your chances of having a child with those disorders.
Who Should See A Genetic Counselor?
Most couples planning a pregnancy or who are expecting don't need genetic counseling. The best time to seek genetic counseling is before becoming pregnant, when a counselor can help assess your risk factors. But even after you become pregnant, a meeting with a genetic counselor can still be helpful. It's especially important to consider genetic counseling if any of the following risk factors apply to you:
- A standard prenatal screening test yields an abnormal result.
- An amniocentesis yields an unexpected result (such as a chromosomal defect in the unborn baby).
- Either parent or a close relative has an inherited disease or birth defect.
- Either parent already has children with birth defects or genetic disorders.
- The mother-to-be has had two or more miscarriages or babies that died in infancy.
- The mother-to-be will be 35 or older when the baby is born. Chances of having a child with Down syndrome increase with the mother's age: a woman has a 1 in 350 chance of conceiving a child with Down syndrome at age 35, a 1 in 110 chance at age 40, and a 1 in 30 chance at age 45.
page last modified on: 5/7/2013