Remember how most age-old Bollywood movies would have the same plot. It is the one where a grandfather dies at the same time a baby (aka the hero) is born in the family. And people would presume that this matched timing has led to a transfer of soul. Well, our ancestors do have the capacity to transfer things into future generations. It may not be their souls but sadly, their illnesses. Confused? Consider taking Genetic counseling.
This week on #LadiesAndBabies, we will tell what is the role of pre pregnancy genetic counseling.
What is Genetic Counseling?
As the name suggests, genetic counseling is a session(s) of counseling given by trained professionals to educate families about genetic or hereditary disorders.
A genetic disorder is one that runs in the family and can be passed on to any offspring. Expecting parents can seek the help of a genetic counselor before or during their pregnancy. With the help of a counselor, a couple can find out if there is a need for specific genetic tests or screenings, and also make important decisions in case there is a risk of having a baby with a genetic defect or birth disorder.
Genetic counseling becomes especially important if a hereditary condition has been found to be present in either partner’s family.
The Role of Genetic Counseling
Knowledge is the key to making better decisions. Pre pregnancy genetic counseling is given to parents who are affected by or have a plausible risk of passing a genetic disorder to their unborn child.
The importance of genetic counseling can only be summarised by the fact that the body has 25,000 genes, and the alteration of DNA in any one of them can create a serious genetic condition.
Genetic counselors address the various emotions that affect parents during such times.
The purpose of pre pregnancy genetic counseling is:
- Discuss the history and risk of genetic disorders
- Advice upon screening tests and how to get them done
- Inform about disease management
- Provide psychological guidance to parents and families
Genetic counseling during pregnancy is also a common aspect. Sometimes, parents miss out on detecting hereditary disorders before they plan to conceive. However, with the help of several prenatal tests, they can figure out the possibility of birth defects during the gestation period.
Read: #LadiesAndBabies: Pre-Pregnancy Therapy For Expecting Couples
The purpose of genetic counseling during pregnancy:
- Address the reason for genetic disorders – previous pregnancies, birth defects, and more
- Inform the parents about additional tests
- Discuss the risks of maternal infections
- Plan on disease management for the child
- Help in the health management of the mother
When To Take Pre-Pregnancy Genetic Counseling
So, when does a visit to a genetic counselor become essential? A couple should consider genetic counseling if:
- Either partner’s family has a history of an inherited disorder.
- Either partner belongs to an ethnic group that has a higher risk of certain genetic disorders.
- The couple already has a child with a genetic disease, birth defect, or mental retardation.
- The woman partner is above 35 years of age.
- There have been three or more miscarriages previously or early death of a newborn.
Things to remember
- Genetic counseling is done beyond the traditional setting of a hospital. It is also done by professionals in educational institutes, infertility centers and more.
- Genetic counselors also help in communicating the test results to the parents and help them handle their anxiety better
- You should carry your medical records while visiting a genetic counselor
- You should also make a list of deceased relatives including the cause of death.
Technology has advanced so much that defects can be detected even before the child is one. But awareness regarding these technologies and sciences is chief for utilizing them.
Pre pregnancy genetic counseling is one such way where parents can understand deeply about the health of their child. The all-embracing concept of genetic counseling can be opted for by all parents.
Read: Understanding Stillbirth Through Genetic Testing
Want to learn more about women and child health? Check out the #LadiesAndBabies section on our website now.
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