Genetic Counseling - Providing Support and Information
Every couple dreams of a healthy baby and most get their wish, but for every couple there is a 3 to 5% chance of having a child with a birth defect or genetic disorder. Certain factors such as age, family history, exposure to certain medication, screening test results or results from an ultrasound exam may increase the risk. Genetic counseling at St. Mary’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine & Genetics Center helps mothers, couples and families understand these risks.
During a genetic counseling visit, our licensed, board-certified genetic counselor will review your health history, pregnancy history and your family history to look for any risk factors. If there is a family history of a birth defect or genetic disorder, the genetic counselor will discuss the chance that the condition will occur again in your family. The genetic counselor will also provide up-to-date information about available screening and diagnostic tests, treatments, research options, support groups and community resources.
Every effort is made to provide families with the necessary information to make the best decisions for them base on their own religious, cultural and moral beliefs. We will help you to sort through and understand your risks and to understand the variety of testing, screening and treatment options available. Our goal is to ensure that you and your family are comfortable with the decision you make and that you feel you make an informed choice.
Who might be referred for Genetic Counseling?
Women or couples who are planning to become pregnant or are already pregnant and have:
- A family history of a genetic disorder or birth defect
- A maternal age of 35 or older or a paternal age of 45 or over
- A chromosomal translocation or inversion
- A disease that affects pregnancy management such as seizures, diabetes, Marfan syndrome, heart defects, etc.
- Had multiple pregnancy losses
- An abnormal screening test for Down syndrome, spina bifida or any condition
- An abnormal ultrasound
- Exposure to medications, drugs, alcohol or chemicals that could potentially harm the baby
- Maternal viral infection that could harm the baby
- An ethnic background that places them at a greater risk for having a child with a genetic disorder
Infants, children or adults may also be referred for an evaluation if they have:
- A known or suspected genetic or chromosomal abnormality
- Developmental delays or mental retardation
- One or more birth defects
- A family history of genetic disorders or birth defects
- Unusual facial features
- A growth abnormality, such as unusually short or tall stature
- A metabolic disorder
- Delayed puberty
Adults with any of the following may also benefit from genetic counseling:
- A concern about anything that runs in your family
- Multiple family members with cancer
- A personal history of cancer diagnosed at an early age
- A personal history of two or more separate cancers
- Interest in genetic testing for cancer genes