About Genetic Counseling
Many people don't know what to expect during a meeting with a genetic counselor. If your doctor suggests that you consider an appointment with Reproductive Genetics, here is some information explaining who we are and what to expect. Remember, we are here to answer your questions and provide support. We will review what, if any, risks you may have and what testing and follow-up options are available. If you choose to have tests, we will help to arrange for this. We will make sure that you receive results as soon as possible and that all of your questions are answered. Our role is NEVER to tell you what tests to have or what you should do. We respect your ability to make your own best decisions, and we support all individuals in what they believe is best for them.
What is a Genetic Counselor?
A genetic counselor is a healthcare professional with specialized training in medical genetics and counseling. A prenatal genetic counselor’s role is to provide information and support to individuals and families who may be at risk of having a baby with a birth defect or a genetic syndrome. They identify families at risk, analyze family history information, provide information about the condition or concern, interpret patterns of inheritance and risk of recurrence, and review available testing and support options to the family.
What Happens During a Genetic Counseling Appointment?
Each genetic counseling session typically lasts 30 minutes to 1 hour and is tailored to address your specific concerns and answer your specific questions. As a part of the process, the genetic counselor will ask detailed family history questions and will construct a three-generation family tree. You will also be asked about any medications, vitamins, supplements, drugs, or alcohol you may be taking. Information provided by you during this appointment will be kept confidential, so it is important to be as accurate as possible. The genetic counselor may discuss screening or diagnostic tests which could provide additional information about your pregnancy and any possible risks for birth defects. The genetic counselor also is able to serve as an interpreter of complex medical information and as a support person if this information is stressful. The goal of genetic counseling is to help you make informed decisions about your pregnancy. Most often, the information discussed is reassuring, test results, if any, are normal, and women tell us that they feel better and less anxious after the genetic counseling process.
Will Genetic Testing Be Offered or Encouraged?
Whether a specific screening or diagnostic test is offered will depend upon the specifics of your own situation. Ultimately, it is your individual choice whether to undergo any type of testing during your pregnancy. The genetic counselor’s role is to provide you with as much information as possible to help you make an informed choice about testing; however, you will never be pressured into having a test done if you do not want it.
What If I’m Not Pregnant? Can I Still Benefit From Genetic Counseling?
Yes! People often seek genetic counseling prior to conception to discuss issues relating to maternal age, family history concerns, history of miscarriage, and many other reasons. If there are genetic tests that they may wish to consider, it is often better and always less stressful to do them BEFORE a pregnancy.
How Do I Make an Appointment?
Appointments can be made by calling our clinical secretaries at (585) 487-3480. Typically, a referral is made by your OB/GYN or primary care provider.