What is genetic counselling?
Genetic counselling is a process which aims to advise patients or relatives of patients of the nature and consequences of the genetic disorder of the individual in question: be it the patient themselves or, for example, a child the couple/individual is expecting. This includes educating them on the options available to them, the nature of the disorder itself, the management of the disorder, family planning and support. Genetic counselling will usually be carried out by a specialist medical oncologist or clinical geneticist.
What does genetic counselling consist of?
Genetic counselling is different to genetic testing as during counselling you won’t have tests performed to confirm whether or not you could pass on a hereditary condition. During a session of genetic counselling you could expect to discuss the following:
- Discussing your family’s medical history and common health conditions.
- Learning about how certain conditions are inherited and understanding more about them in general.
- Discussing what tests are available.
- Talking about how conditions can be treated and managed.
- Discussing what support is available for certain conditions.
Some conditions that are commonly discussed in genetic counselling include:
- Down’s syndrome
- Cystic fibrosis
- Huntington’s disease
- Muscular dystrophy
- Some forms of cancer
By gaining a better understanding of genetic conditions that affect you and your future family, you will be better able to make informed decisions.
Why is genetic counselling done?
There are numerous reasons why people or families will have genetic counselling, including:
- Being pregnant over the age of 35 years (as the risk of having a baby with a genetic condition is higher in such pregnancies).
- They have a family history of genetic conditions or defects.
- A pregnant woman has had a prenatal ultrasound which has flagged a possible abnormality.
- Someone who has had multiple miscarriages or are struggling to conceive.
- Someone who has a child with a genetic condition or defect.
Preparation for genetic counselling:
If you are seeking genetic counselling, it is helpful to get as much information as possible on any hereditary health conditions that run in your family. Details that can be helpful include the ages at which family members were diagnosed and what age any died, if applicable. It is also important to have as much of your own medical history to hand too.
What do abnormal results mean?
Genetic counselling does not test for genetic conditions, but it is usually the precursor to genetic testing.
If you would like to book a session of genetic counselling, you can find the specialists that provide it here.06-05-2018 09-27-2023