What is genetic counseling?
Genetic counseling is the process of helping people understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease. This process integrates the following: Interpretation of family and medical histories to assess the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence. Education about inheritance, testing, management, prevention, resources and research. Counseling to promote informed choices and adaptations to the risk or condition. Journal of Genetic Counseling, Vol.
Genetic counseling involves a meeting with a genetic counselor and geneticist to discuss genetic or inherited conditions. Genetic counseling seeks to translate complex scientific information into practical information that is useful to the patient and other family members. Usually the counselor asks many questions about the individual’s family history. The family history information is used to help make a genetic diagnosis, to determine a person’s risk for developing a genetic disorder, or to determine the risk of having a child with a genetic disorder. Medical information is also collected and the geneticist and genetic counselor will assess the family’s medical needs, as well as their emotional, psychosocial and other needs.
Genetic counseling is the process of: • evaluating family history and medical records • ordering genetic tests • evaluating the results of this investigation • helping parents understand and reach decisions about what to do next Genetic tests are done by analyzing small samples of blood or body tissues. They determine whether you, your partner, or your baby carry genes for certain inherited disorders. Genes are made up of DNA molecules, which are the simplest building blocks of heredity. They’re grouped together in specific patterns within a person’s chromosomes, forming the unique “blueprint” for every physical and biological characteristic of that person. Humans have 46 chromosomes, arranged in pairs in every living cell of our bodies. When the egg and sperm join at conception, half of each chromosomal pair is inherited from each parent. This newly formed combination of chromosomes then copies itself again and again during fetal growth and development, passing identical genetic infor
Professional genetic counselors explain the process by which diseases are passed along genetically, and help families understand their risk of transmitting genetic disorders to their children. They counsel families about options for finding out their genetic disease risk, and provide information that will help them make decisions about pursuing genetic testing and what to do with the results of those tests.
Genetic counseling is a service to help individuals and families translate scientific knowledge into practical information. A genetic counselor works with a person or family that may be at risk for an inherited disease or abnormal pregnancy outcome, discussing their chances of having children who are affected. Providers of genetic counseling include: • Individuals who have followed a specific educational curriculum and who are certified genetic counselors (CGCs) • Doctors or nurses with special training in the subject These health care professionals are experienced in helping families understand birth defects and how inheritance works. They provide information that helps families make personal decisions about pregnancy, child care and genetic testing. Is Genetic Counseling for You? Anyone who has unanswered questions about origins of diseases or traits in the family should consider genetic counseling. People who may find it valuable include: • Those who have, or are concerned that they