Why is Prenatal Genetic Counselling Important before Starting a Family?

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If you are already expecting or considering having a baby, you and your spouse may feel joyful, excited, and nervous – all at the same time. You may even get anxious and fearful about being a mother and the health of your child. It is usual for soon-to-be moms and partners to be confused, so don’t feel alone and helpless. Instead, look for ways to seek guidance and helpful information that may come to your aid. One such solution is preconception consultation. During this counselling service, your doctor will guide on how to go about planning your pregnancy and essential things that should be taken into consideration. It is also the perfect time to ask your doctor all the things occupying your mind. It could be as simple as what exercise is okay for me during pregnancy or as crucial as what vaccinations should I get and when? Additionally, you must also tell your doctor about any health concerns that run in your families, such as hypertension, diabetes, or cancer. If this is one of the fears you have, then a prenatal genetic counselling session is crucial.

The prenatal genetic counselling session is a healthcare service during which a certified healthcare worker will interpret your family medical history to assess the risk of genetic diseases. During this session, you and your partner can learn about –

  • The risk of a genetic disorder to your future child
  • Genetic tests that can help check for genetic birth diseases
  • Choose whether or not these tests should be taken

Genetic tests can be performed on a fetus (unborn baby) to see if the baby will have a genetic disorder, like thalassemia or Down syndrome. Likewise, you and your partner can undergo genetic tests to confirm whether or not you are at a higher risk than others for passing on genetic disorders to your baby. These tests are simple; all you need to do is seek the services of a company like truGeny that offers genetic counselling services and genetics tests. The company will get you connected with a genetic counsellor and conduct genetic tests. A few weeks after the tests, your reports will be ready, and a genetics professional will explain the findings to you and your partner.

Who is genetic testing suggested for?

  • Couples who have family members or children with genetic or birth disorders
  • Couples who have had three or more miscarriages (fetus dies before 20 weeks of pregnancy)
  • Jews of Eastern European descent, as they may have an increased of having babies with Tay-Sachs or Canavan’s disease
  • African-Americans, as they may have an elevated of having babies with sickle-cell anemia (a blood disease)
  • People of Southeast Asian or Mediterranean origin, as they may have an increased of having babies with thalassemia (a blood disease)

It is recommended that all expecting women must undergo genetic tests. However, those at a higher risk are:

  • Women who were exposed to toxins (poisons) that can trigger a birth disorder
  • Women with a health problem that may affect their fetus, such as diabetes
  • Women with abnormal results on pregnancy screening, such as alpha-fetoprotein (AFP)
  • Women whose fetus shows abnormal results on pregnancy ultrasound reports

The test results will –

  • Prepare yourself to a chance of having a baby with a genetic problem
  • If you have a baby with a genetic disorder, then what are the treatments or surgeries available
  • Help decide if you wish to continue the pregnancy; in some cases, the baby’s problems might be severe

It’s important to note that the purpose of prenatal genetic counselling is to help couples make decisions. A genetic counsellor will only help you decipher the information you get from your tests. The counsellor will talk to you about options and resources, but the decisions are yours to make.

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