How Do I Know When I Need Genetic Counseling?

It may sound like an odd question, but there are times when there may be uncertainty about having genetic testing performed. Knowing when it is appropriate to have genetic testing performed can save not only time, but undue worry.


When trying to conceive a baby, it is a good idea to consider prenatal genetic testing if you are over the age of 34 years old. As we get older, the risks of serious birth defects such as Down Syndrome and mental retardation do increase. With genetic testing, the couple can be well versed of their exact risk of birth defects and in turn, make an informed decision on how to proceed with their choice to have a baby.


Another very good reason to consider prenatal genetic testing is when there is a known history of genetic abnormalities on either side of the parents. These abnormalities can range from chromosomal defects, heart defects, Muscular Dystrophy, as well as other forms of mental retardation. With genetic testing, the couple can know their actual risk of their child having such defects and again, make an informed decision. Having such knowledge can also save the lives of not only the unborn child, but also the mother.


A third plausible reason to consider prenatal genetic testing is if the mother had been taking any medication that could have a negative impact on the baby. Many people do not realize the impact of medication on an unborn baby. This can have devastating effects to an unborn baby. Being able to calculate the risk, if any, can help the expectant mother have an uneventful and healthy pregnancy.


Many people are frightened of going for genetic testing. Understanding the numerous benefits is imperative. For example, if trying to conceive a baby and you found out your risk of having a baby with a serious birth defect was very high, you want to consider other options rather than conceiving. Though it is very upsetting to be told such news, bringing a baby into the works who will have no quality of life, and could pass away, is just as dreadful, if not more.


Preventing or diagnosing certain birth defects with prenatal genetic testing is possible. In our ever-changing world of medical technology, we are almost able to look into the future, and predict the medical outcome. That is giant leap forward from forty years ago when many people had children who unfortunately were either severely handicapped or did not survive at all.


Being well informed of all the possible risks, as well as positive outcomes is what is needed to make clear and concise decisions. Prenatal genetic testing can prepare the patient and the doctors in the event of a problem and again, possibly save lives. For example, knowing that an unborn baby has a certain type of heart defect while in uterus, can aid the doctor in preparing for the birth in the most safest manner for the baby. Having specialists at the delivery and waiting can mean the difference between life and death for many.