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What is genetic counseling and why is it used during prenatal development?

Tests for your health and your child’s
If you are considering getting pregnant, you may have mixed feelings. Although it is exciting to welcome a new baby, it is also very natural. You want to make sure that your baby stays healthy during your pregnancy and after birth – especially if they are at risk of genetic diseases.

Genetic disorders such as sickle cell disease, TA-Sachs disease, and muscular dystrophy can all pass on to your child if you have any genetic risk factors.

“People who have genetic disorders or who have family members with genetic disorders sometimes hesitate to have children because they are worried that they will go through the disease,” W. Andrew Andrewkett, Genomic Medicine A professor who performs community engagement and public direction. Education for Geisinger’s My Code Community Health Initiative. “Genetic counseling services can determine if your child is at risk for genetic diseases and provide support along the way and help prepare you for the birth of a child with special needs.”

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What genetic counselors do
Genetic counselors help people understand how birth defects, genes, and medical conditions operate in families. You can undergo genetic counseling before or during pregnancy. A genetic counselor will help you interpret the results of genetic tests (such as blood tests) and help you make decisions about your pregnancy and how to take care of your baby.

“Genetic counselors can help your child understand the possibilities of having a genetic condition,” Foucette said. “They can answer medical questions, provide education and resources, and also provide emotional support. Genetic counselors help people adapt and prepare for any risk or situations. “

Conditions such as Down syndrome, cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, cleft palate and heart defects can be identified during pregnancy. By identifying these conditions, it is possible to start treatment early and formulate a medical strategy.

In addition to finding the risks of pregnancy, genetic counseling can help you assess your own health risks. If you are at an increased risk for heart disease or certain cancers, test results may tell. For example, tests can find genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are associated with both breast and ovarian cancer.

Here are five reasons that genetic counseling may be right for you.

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You or a relative has an inherited disease
Genetic diseases are common in some families and ethnic groups. If you or a family member has an inherited disease, genetic counseling can help you understand the risk of inheritance or passage of the disease.

“Not all diseases are inherited in the same way,” Foucette said. “It is possible to have a genetic disease that does not pass on to your children. Likewise, it is possible that you and your partner may carry the gene for the genetic disorder and do not even know it. The genetic counseling gives you the risk of passing on a condition. Helps understand and educate you about the care of a child with a genetic condition. “

You’re over 35 and considering having a child
People 35 and older are at risk of certain genetic disorders if they get pregnant.

“Studies show that people who are 35 years of age or older are more likely to have children with genetic disorders than young people,” Fawcett said. “Autism and Down syndrome are examples of two conditions that appear to be associated with increased parental age.”

You’ve had a child with a genetic disorder
If you’ve already had a child with a genetic disorder, you may be wondering if your next child will have one, too.

Since genetic inheritance patterns can be complex, genetic counselors can help parents understand the possibility of having the same (or different) genetic disorder as another child.

You’ve had abnormal prenatal test results
During pregnancy, your doctor will perform tests to check how your baby is developing and developing. During these tests, they may receive readings that are unusual. In this case, they may advise you to see a genetic counselor.

Through genetic testing, genetic counselors can identify disorders and even recommend early treatments.

You’ve had a previous miscarriage or lost a child
If you have had two miscarriages or passed a child, your doctor may recommend genetic counseling. Using genetic tests and medical information from your previous pregnancies, your genetic counselor can help assess your risk in future pregnancies.

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