What is Genetic Counseling?
Genetic counseling is a process families and/or individuals should undergo once a genetic condition is suspected.
Families and/or individuals at risk of genetic conditions will undertake the process either pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, following the birth of a child, or in adulthood.
Why is genetic counseling important?
As one part of the diagnostic journey for families or individuals with a suspected or possible genetic condition, the process aims to educate, inform, and support families as they move through their diagnostic journey. Genetic counseling educates families on the potential genetic conditions they might be facing and prepares them for all of the implications of a confirmed genetic condition diagnosis. This means walking them through the full medical, psychological, and mental impact of a confirmed diagnosis.
The process also focuses on the specific and potential implications a diagnosis may have on the family as a whole. As part of the process, families and individuals will be connected to community support groups and other resources to manage their diagnosis better.
When might genetic counseling be requested?
Families and/or individuals at risk for genetic conditions may undertake the process either pre-pregnancy, during pregnancy, following the birth, or in adulthood.
During pregnancy, couples may be advised to attend genetic counseling after any of the following: concerns noted during routine pregnancy screenings, an amniocentesis result that suggests a chromosomal defect, a history of inherited genetic conditions in the family.
Who leads the genetic counseling?
It is led by genetic counselors, who are trained and specialized medical professionals. They will guide families throughout the process, both pre and post-testing. They will help families document their family medical history to provide a more accurate diagnosis. They can also guide families in whether to proceed with genetic testing and which tests to go ahead with.
Post genetic testing, genetic counselors guide families through what the test may mean or reveal and the necessary next steps in diagnosis and management of the condition.
Genetic counseling is a key part of the diagnosis of genetic conditions. It provides immense support and information to families and individuals as they navigate what may be a life-altering diagnosis.