When—and why—should you see a genetic counselor?
If your baby could be at risk for an inherited condition, you might find it helpful to see a genetic counselor. This person is specially trained and certified to help you sort through the different tests, risks, and possible outcomes for your unique situation.
Here are some of the cases in which you might see a genetic counselor:
- You (or the baby’s father) have, or think you might have, an inherited disorder or birth defect.
- Your prenatal screening tests show a higher-than-normal possibility of a certain complication or birth defect.
- You’re over age 35 and pregnant (or planning to be pregnant).
- You already have a child with an inherited disorder or birth defect.
- You’ve had babies who died as infants, or three or more miscarriages.
- You have a family history of inherited disorders or birth defects, or a higher-than-normal risk of genetic conditions based on your ethnic group(s).
- You’re having a child with a first cousin or other close blood relative.
- You’re worried that your job, lifestyle or medical history puts your baby at a higher risk for problems. Your concerns might include exposure to radiation, chemicals, medications, illegal drugs, or infections.
No one ever wants to hear that there may be a problem with her pregnancy. Your genetic counselor can help you make sense of what is often an emotional and confusing situation, and give you the information you need to decide how to go forward. He or she will:
- Review your baby’s genetic risks based on family histories and screening or diagnostic test results.
- Discuss the benefits and risks of different tests and help arrange appointments for them, if you’d like.
- Help you learn more about what life might be like for your family if your baby were to be born with a certain condition, and connect you with medical or educational specialists and support groups as needed.
Please call the Swedish Maternal and Fetal Specialty Center at 206-386-2101 or 1-800-228-9677 for more information or to schedule an appointment.