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What is prenatal genetic counseling?

Genetic counseling in obstetrics is a professional assessment of risk factors based on your and your partner’s family, medical and/or pregnancy history. Genetic counseling not only offers risk assessment, but also explains the cause and inheritance of a disorder, availability of testing, the prognosis, medical management and treatment.

Our approach

Our specialists view prenatal genetic counseling as an opportunity to gain a deep understanding of your genetic history and what conditions you might be at risk for. If your doctor sees anything that looks concerning, they will immediately begin working with a genetic specialist and physicians from maternal fetal medicine. No matter the case, our specialized team will work with you to get the most accurate results. We understand genetic counseling can be overwhelming; that’s why we go above and beyond to give you a comprehensive understanding of the process and all of your options.

Why it's done

Families with a history of genetic diseases, birth defects or pregnancy complications can often benefit from genetic counseling. The process can begin before pregnancy occurs, with preconception counseling and carrier testing of the parents. Our genetic counselors work with physicians who specialize in human genetics and maternal fetal medicine to interpret the results and determine what tests are advisable for couples at risk.

Other common reasons for seeking prenatal genetic counseling include:

  • Infertility
  • A history of multiple miscarriages or stillbirth
  • A prior pregnancy affected by a genetic disorder or birth defect
  • Current pregnancy screening showing an increased risk for a genetic condition
  • Ultrasound findings in a current pregnancy that suggest the presence of a genetic condition
  • Advanced maternal age (typically 35 and older)
  • Ethnic origin
  • To discuss the risk of having a child with a genetic disorder

What to expect after treatment

Genetic counseling includes taking a detailed three-generation family history and explaining any pertinent genetic issues discovered. This will help your doctor identify your baby’s risk for certain genetic conditions, such as Fragile X syndrome, a condition that causes developmental problems.

If warning signs are discovered during your genetic counseling, your physician will discuss your options with you. Further prenatal tests may be advised. Your clinician will explain the risks and benefits of the recommended testing and answer any questions you may have before proceeding.

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