Prenatal genetic counselors are health-care professionals who are specially trained and certified to give you information about the possibility of genetic concerns in your pregnancy. Genetic counselors can help you make sense of what can be sometimes be complex and confusing medical and scientific information and help you make personal decisions about your pregnancy, child care, and genetic testing options.
Genetic counselors provide the following services:
- Review you and your partner’s genetic risks based on family histories, blood tests and ultrasound
- Discuss the pros and cons of your prenatal testing options, including those for Down syndrome
- Provide information on genetic conditions, including their common features, inheritance and prognosis
- Assist with referrals to support groups and specialized health-care providers
- Advocate for individuals and families with or at risk for genetic conditions or birth defects
When you see a genetic counselor, he or she:
- Will record your family medical history and your own medical background
- May arrange appointments for blood tests, physical exams, or amniocentesis
- Will try to put together a picture of how your family’s health may affect your children
- Will help you interpret medical information about any risks present and explain the role of genetics in these conditions
Should I have genetic counseling?
If you have unanswered questions about origins of diseases or traits in your family, you should consider genetic counseling. You may find genetic counseling valuable if:
- You have, or are concerned you might have, an inherited disorder or birth defect
- You are 35 or older and are pregnant or planning to be pregnant
- You already have a child with mental retardation, an inherited disorder or a birth defect
- You already have a child with a genetic disease diagnosed by routine newborn screening
- You have had babies who died in infancy or had three or more miscarriages
- You and your family are concerned that your jobs, lifestyles, or medical history pose a risk to the outcome of your pregnancy. Common causes of concern include exposure to radiation, medications, illegal drugs, chemicals, or infections.
- You and your family would like testing or more information about genetic conditions that occur frequently in your ethnic group(s)
- You are having a child with a first cousin or other close blood relative
- You have had ultrasound examinations or blood testing that indicate that your pregnancy may be at increased risk for certain complications or birth defects
Evaluation of test results is usually coordinated between the genetic counselor, you and your doctor. In some cases a genetic counselor will provide information to help you make decisions. Depending on your test results, your genetic counselor or your doctor can refer you to resources in your community that deal with a specific genetic condition, or to medical specialists, educational specialists or family support groups.
Please call the Swedish Division of Perinatal Medicine at 206-386-2101 or 1-800-228-9677 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
Maternal and Fetal Specialty Center1229 Madison
First Hill Campus, Nordstrom Tower, Suite 750
Seattle, WA 98104
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
The Obstetrix Medical Group at Issaquah
751 N.E. Blakely Dr.
Issaquah, WA 98029