All parents hope their children will be healthy, and most babies born to women of all ages are normal and healthy. Unfortunately, some pregnancies are at risk for birth defects or genetic conditions. There is a small chance for these problems in any pregnancy, but the risks may be greater in certain situations.
Even prior to a pregnancy, your OB/GYN care provider may assess your risks by asking you about your previous health and pregnancy history, and the health and reproductive history of others in your family. Prior to and during your pregnancy, your provider will offer you a number of screening tests to determine if you may be at increased risk for birth defects or inherited conditions in your children.
Many of these tests are routine blood tests offered to all women, while others may be more specific to your own situation. Other common tests done during a pregnancy include ultrasound examinations and sometimes prenatal procedures like amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling (CVS). If your doctor determines that you may have an increased risk or that genetic testing should be considered, you may be referred to Reproductive Genetics to meet with one of our genetic counselors.
Our genetic counselors work closely with the doctors in the Maternal Fetal Medicine Division. The counselors meet with women and couples to help them understand risk factors that may have been uncovered and to help them decide which, if any, follow-up testing options might be right for them. If a woman chooses to have genetic testing, the counselors help arrange it and make sure the woman gets her results as soon as possible and that she understands what the results mean for her or her baby. Keep in mind that most of the time, results are normal and parents are reassured that their baby will be healthy.