You just got married and are still flushed with excitement and full of dreams for the future. Your next step is to start a family. Now, you ask, do I need to visit a genetic counselor? When is the right time for you and your spouse to schedule a visit to this specialist? Find out more in this post.
Things to Know Before You Visit a Genetic Counselor
As humans, genetic mutations occur naturally. It is a normal part of human reproduction and development. However, these mutations can sometimes lead to genetic disorders that can affect a child’s health and future.
If you are planning to have children or are currently pregnant, there are so many things running in your mind. You may ask so many questions.
- What is the likelihood of these conditions occurring in my pregnancy?
- Should I pursue genetic testing before becoming pregnant?
- Or should I wait to undergo a non-invasive prenatal screening test once I am already pregnant?
- How do I understand these risks?
- What happens if my baby tests positive for a genetic abnormality?
These are all valid questions from parents-to-be. They ask these before and during pregnancy.
Often, a primary care doctor can help answer them, but in special cases, additional medical advice might be needed. This is especially true for those who have a family history of a genetic disorder. Or you may have already tested positive for a particular genetic mutation.
Factors like genetics, inheritance, and genetic conditions may be well explained by a specialist. And this person is called a genetic counselor.
What is a Genetic Counselor?
A genetic counselor is a medical professional that is trained both in medical genetics and counseling. This is according to the National Society of Genetic Counselors.
Their specialization gives them the unique skill set required to be able to interpret complex genetic testing results. Additionally, they are trained to determine the probability of certain outcomes so they are able to guide their patients in making decisions.
What Can You Expect When You Visit a Genetic Counselor?
Most likely, a genetic counselor will start your first meeting by asking detailed questions about you and your partner’s medical histories. He or she will also need a rundown of your family medical history.
All these data can help the specialist gain a better understanding of the possible conditions you may risk of passing to your children.
Depending on your circumstances, the counselor may recommend genetic testing for you, your partner, as well as your unborn child.
After completing genetic testing and your results are ready, the genetic counselor will then assist you in interpreting those results.
A genetic counselor will be able to evaluate your test results. They will then be able to make conclusions about the likelihood of your child being born with a particular genetic condition.
If you are already pregnant and find out that your baby will likely be born with a particular genetic disorder, the counselor can help you to navigate through this diagnosis.
You can then discuss additional healthcare and therapies that you may need throughout the pregnancy. Furthermore, you can plan for the child’s future needs.
How Should You Prepare When You Visit a Genetic Counselor?
Make sure that you have detailed information about your family’s medical history readily available.
If you are not aware of your grandparents’ and parents’ medical conditions, it would be good to ask your parents prior to the checkup. The same is applicable to your husband.
Additionally, if you have already been tested, it would be good to have all of your genetic testing results ready.
Your counselor will interpret this data in relation to your particular circumstances. All these data as well as your truthfulness will enable the genetic counselor to advise you about your possible future.
Is a Genetic Counselor Right for You?
If you are wondering whether you should visit a genetic counselor, or if you have questions about genetic disorders, talk to your doctor.
She could be a family doctor or your OB-Gynecologist. She may be able to address your concerns and refer you to a reputable genetic counselor in your area.