Genetic Counseling for Fragile X Syndrome
Genetic counseling for Fragile X syndrome can be especially complex, in part due to how it is inherited and the gene mutations responsible for causing it.
Other complications arise from the fact that symptoms vary greatly between an individual, and may not always be obviously caused by Fragile X. Misdiagnosis is common within the rare disease field, and it takes an experienced and certified genetic expert to be able to make sense of the set of symptoms related to Fragile X, and the possible gene mutations responsible for causing it.
Fragile X syndrome is caused by mutations in the FMR1 gene. This mutation may be partial or complete. It is inherited in an X-linked manner, making it more severe amongst males.
Increasingly Fragile X is being tested for as a part of routine carrier screening, which couples can opt to undergo either before or after conceiving. Genetic counseling should be initiated before any form of genetic screening.
What is genetic counseling for Fragile X?
Genetic counseling what to expect for Fragile X
The taking of a detailed family medical history.
Often an individual diagnosed with Fragile X, is the first diagnosis in their family. However, further investigation will often reveal family members with a combination of symptoms that will show evidence of the syndrome in the family prior to the diagnosis, or other family members that may also be carriers of the gene mutation responsible for the syndrome.
This will include understanding if any members of the immediate and extended family have behavioral or developmental issues, including ADHD, autism, and mental health issues.
It will include asking if any female members have experienced infertility, or irregular menstruation, and if there are any adult family members diagnosed with Parkinson’s, tremors, ataxia, or dementia.
Identifying these family members is important in strengthening our understanding of how the syndrome is caused, and how it presents both similarly and differently in individuals. This understanding also helps a family understand the risks involved in having future children, and their consequent risk of developing Fragile X.
Genetic counseling is a process which involves itself not only with the health and diagnosis of an individual, but of an entire family as well.
A detailed explanation of the causes of the syndrome.
The gene mutation responsible for it, and the other possible gene locations responsible for causing it. This understanding of how the syndrome is caused, is important for families planning future pregnancies, after a Fragile X diagnosis.
A diagnosis of the syndrome in a child, may prompt the need for carrier screening of the parents, in order to understand the risks involved for future children. It may also lead to a recommendation to test all members of a family for the syndrome, even those without symptoms.
Genetic counseling is very important in terms of understanding this process, and the implications of carrier screening, and its results.
A comprehensive understanding of the full set of symptoms an individual is presenting with.
A genetic counselor will be able to coordinate the necessary medical care and support for managing these symptoms, and will also be able to help a family understand if these symptoms warrant further genetic testing to either confirm or rule out Fragile X as a cause of them.
A genetic counselor will also prepare families for what a diagnosis of Fragile X might be, in terms of the long term care of their child or children.
An explanation of and recommendations for genetic testing options to diagnosis Fragile X.
During pregnancy this might involve invasive testing options such as amniocentesis, and chorionic villus sampling. A genetic counselor will be able to explain the process of each form of testing to the parents-to-be, the risks involved in the testing (however small) and the possible results of each. They will also explain to parents genetic testing of a child, and what this will entail.
Connecting families to support groups and networks, for living with Fragile X.
These groups are important for furthering awareness about the syndrome, but also for connecting families through shared experiences. They are also important advocates for rare disease patients and their families in terms of accessing research, and care.
Emotional and mental support for families faced with a Fragile X diagnosis.
This can be a difficult thing to come to terms with, and even if it finally provides an answer to what may have been troubling and unidentifiable symptoms, a diagnosis in itself is not the end of the journey. It is the beginning of a family’s journey as a family affected by rare disease, and genetic counseling offers invaluable and essential support to families going through this difficult and very new process.
Online genetic counseling for Fragile X
Genetic counseling for Fragile X syndrome is an invaluable and crucial process for any family facing a genetic diagnosis. It provides a mixture of medical advice, recommendations, information and knowledge, as well as essential counseling services for emotional support.
Genetic counseling for Fragile X syndrome can sometimes be difficult to access, depending on where a family is based. Genetic counseling for this specific syndrome, requires the support and expertise of a very experienced genetic expert. This level of support and expertise may not be readily available in local areas.
Online genetic counseling is recommended for any families unable to easily access genetic counseling for Fragile X, or indeed any rare disease, in their local area.