Genetic Counseling

Dysmorphologist

Exposures Causing
Birth Defects

Cystic Fibrosis Carrier Screening

Jewish Ancestry

 


Genetic Counseling

WHAT IS GENETIC COUNSELING?
Genetic Counseling is a process whereby information about a person’s family history is discussed and analyzed. During a genetic counseling session, the following may occur:

  • Discussion about a person’s family tree or pedigree
  • Education about a genetic condition and its inheritance
  • Discussion of options
  • Genetic testing
  • Counseling and support
  • Discussion of fetal abnormalities detected on ultrasound.
  • Referral to other professionals if necessary.

What is the background of a genetic counselor?
Genetic counselors have a master’s degree in genetic counseling and may be certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. They have extensive knowledge in human genetics, genetic disease, patterns of inheritance and birth defects. They are also trained in counseling skills to help people deal with decision-making and the emotional aspects of genetic disease.

Who needs genetic counseling?
Some common examples of individuals who seek genetic counseling are:

  • Women over 34 who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • Couples who have been told their unborn baby has a birth defect
  • Couples who are related (other than by marriage) who are planning a family
  • Individuals of certain ethnic backgrounds who are concerned about recessive genetic diseases that they may carry (e.g.
  • African-American, Ashkenazi Jews)
  • Individuals who have family history of a known genetic disease (such as cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy or hemophilia)
  • Individuals who have noted that certain problems “run in the family”
  • Couples who have had a child with a birth defect (such as cleft lip, club feet, heart defect or spina bifida)
  • Individuals with a family history of a chromosome abnormality, such as Down syndrome
  • Individual with a family history of mental retardation
  • Couples with infertility or recurrent miscarriages

Will the genetic counselor tell me what to do?
No. The role of the genetic counselor is to inform and educate individuals and families about the condition that may affect them. The genetic counselor will explain options and facilitate a discussion about the pros and cons of each option. The ultimate decision on what to do is up to you. The genetic counselor will support any decision you make.