Pregnancy planning is perhaps the most exciting phase of life for couples looking forward to parenting. However, it may also be overwhelming as you experience the fear of the unknown. You want to do your best to conceive and bear a healthy baby, but genetic disorders can thwart your good intentions and genuine efforts. Such disorders can pass to the baby from either or both parents if they have some risk factors. However, genetic counseling can show you the way and mitigate your fear. A counselor can help you assess your risk factor, provide support, and prepare you for the contingency of having a child with special needs. Let us explain why couples may consider genetic counseling while planning a baby.
You and/or your partner are over 35
Some couples willfully delay pregnancy to fulfill other priorities before starting a family. However, it may not be the best choice because older people are at a high of passing certain genetic disorders to their babies. You must be aware of the chances of having a baby with autism and Down syndrome. Statistics indicate that these conditions may be linked to increased parental age.
Your prenatal test results are abnormal
Abnormal prenatal tests are a reason to worry for all parents, but further investigations can eliminate the guesswork and curb your worries. Doctors recommend several tests during conception planning and pregnancy to check the baby’s development. You must see a genetic counselor if the reports show abnormal readings. The specialist can identify potential issues and recommend early treatments.
You have an inherited disease
Couples with either or both partners having inherited diseases in their families should also consider consulting a genetic counselor. In fact, conditions like fanconi anemia may even be more prevalent in some ethnic groups, such as Ashkenazi Jews and Afrikaners. With genetic counseling, you can understand your risk of inheriting a disease or passing it on to your children. You may also learn about caring for a baby with an inherited condition, which may otherwise be a parenting challenge.
You already have a child with a genetic disorder
Another reason to visit a counselor while planning a pregnancy is when you already have a child with a genetic disorder. You will definitely want to know whether your next child is at risk and if there is a way to eliminate the possibility. Moreover, you may even consider giving up the idea of having another baby and focus only on the kids you already have if the risk is dominant.
You have a history of miscarriages and/or stillbirths
A history of miscarriages and/or stillbirths makes you a candidate for genetic counseling, and your doctor will surely recommend it. The specialist can assess your risk in future pregnancies by using the medical information from the failed ones. They can also guide you about taking measures to reduce the chances of miscarriage and stillbirth and have a healthy pregnancy and full-term ahead.
Genetic counseling is the best choice for a couple dealing with the fear of inherited conditions in their families. But you may also consider it in one or more of these situations as it ensures realistic expectations and better planning.