Genetic Counseling for Down Syndrome

What is genetic counseling?

Genetic counseling is a process, led by a genetic counselor, which supports patients and their families through a rare disease diagnosis.

Any testing or analysis for a genetic syndrome, should start with genetic counseling. It provides immeasurable support for those undergoing genetic testing.

Genetic counseling provides the following support services:

  • Information about rare diseases, their causes and symptoms
  • Information about how rare diseases are inherited, and what that means for parents who are carriers of gene mutations or changes
  • Recommendations for genetic testing, including specifics on each test, what the testing entails, and what the results might be
  • The bringing together of all of the medical professionals and teams, involved in the diagnosis, care and treatment of a rare disease patient
  • Connection with support groups and networks for managing a rare disease
  • Translation of medical terms and jargon

Genetic counseling is a bridge between the medical and non-medical worlds. It is also a form of therapy, providing much needed emotional support for those undergoing genetic testing. 

Genetic counseling and Down syndrome

Understanding who genetic counseling is recommended for.

Any testing for a genetic disease, including Down syndrome, should begin with genetic counseling. The process of reaching a diagnosis can be a long and difficult one, genetic counselors are able to help patients and their families navigate the system, and ensure a more accurate diagnosis as a result. 

However, there are challenges to accessing genetic counseling, regardless of which genetic syndrome you are testing for, that make it difficult for everyone to access.

Finding a genetic counselor in a local area can be difficult. Finding a counselor with availability is also tricky, in some locations. Finding a genetic counselor that has proven experience and expertise of working with families facing a rare disease diagnosis can also be challenging if you don’t know where to start looking. 

This is where online genetic counseling is a good option for Down syndrome, and all rare disease diagnosis processes.

Online genetic counseling is easy to access, all you need is a connected device with video capabilities. That makes it accessible from the comfort of your own home. Online genetic counseling connects you with an entire network of global counselors, all of whom are experts in their field, and all of whom can be connected to fast.

New developments in the field are making genetic counseling easier and quicker to access, and more affordable too. This makes it an accessible option for everyone who needs it. 

genetic counseling for down syndrome

Genetic counseling is an option for Down syndrome in the following situations:

Before undergoing genetic testing for Down syndrome: this can be prenatal testing, or testing after birth. Genetic counseling will explain the testing process, and any results from the testing in terms of what they might mean. Counseling will also emotionally support parents and families throughout the process. Genetic counselors will also be to explain the potential risk factors for developing chromosomal conditions such as Down syndrome, including maternal age. 

If, and when, genetic screening shows indication of increased risk for Down syndrome: genetic counseling is important in this situation, as it will help explain what this risk means for the child involved, and what are the options for parents-to-be or parents when faced with such a risk. 

If, and when, genetic testing returns a positive result for Down syndrome: in this instance, genetic counseling will explain what this might mean in terms of the future health of the diagnosed child, both at birth, and in the long term. They will explain, in detail, the causes and symptoms of Down syndrome, and the importance of early intervention in improving quality of life. They will also connect families to Down syndrome support groups. 

What can genetic counseling tell patients and parents about Down syndrome?

  • Knowledge and information about the causes and symptoms of Down syndrome
  • The options for early intervention and support in all areas of a child’s development. Children with Down syndrome may need extra support in key developmental areas, including their speech and language development, and gross motor skills development. 
  • How they can work with all of the medical professionals, and therapists, involved in their child’s long term care, to provide the best professional care for the child concerned. 
  • If any future children are also at risk for developing Down syndrome, and what steps can be taken to ensure future healthy pregnancies.

What to expect

Genetic counseling what to expect

  • Knowledge and information about the causes and symptoms of Down syndrome
  • The options for early intervention and support in all areas of a child’s development. Children with Down syndrome may need extra support in key developmental areas, including their speech and language development, and gross motor skills development. 
  • How they can work with all of the medical professionals, and therapists, involved in their child’s long term care, to provide the best professional care for the child concerned. 
  • If any future children are also at risk for developing Down syndrome, and what steps can be taken to ensure future healthy pregnancies. 

Genetic counseling and Down syndrome – where to start

If you a parent-to-be, or parent, considering undergoing genetic screening and testing for Down syndrome; or if you are a parent who is considered higher risk for having a child with Down syndrome; or if genetic screening has identified a risk for the genetic syndrome in your child- then the best place to start is with an online consultation.

Connecting with a genetic counselor now will enable you to understand what is the next step in the process of genetic testing and diagnosis, it will help you understand fully all of your options in terms of the health of your child, and it will provide you with much needed support and assistance. 

Genetic counseling is more than just an option for Down syndrome parents, it is a vital and essential service which should be accessible to everyone. Online genetic counseling is the key to ensuring this full accessibility to patients and their families. 

 

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