Why your OB/GYN may discuss genetic screening

It’s now possible to screen for several genetic conditions.

If you’re thinking about having a baby, now is the best time to talk with your OB/GYN about your plans. The preconception counseling visit will help you and your doctor identify anything that could prevent you from having a healthy pregnancy.

Genetic screening options may be among the things your doctor talks about.

“We will take a detailed family history of a couple and find out what genetic conditions they may be at risk for,” said Dr. Allison Devine, ADC OB/GYN.

DNA genetic screening

Why undergo genetic screening?

You or your partner may have a family history of a genetic disorder that could be passed on to your baby. Also, genetic testing could be helpful if you are in an ethnic group at high risk for a certain genetic disorder.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every 33 babies is born with a birth defect. Some defects are caused by genetic disorders.

Testing for genetic conditions can help you and your partner consider all of your options. It can also help reduce the potential risks to you and the baby.

Carrier testing for genetic conditions

Dr. Devine says all women should be screened for certain genetic disorders that have high carrier rates in the general population. They include:

Other screening tests will depend on your family history or ethnicity. These include tests for:

  1. Sickle cell anemia
  2. Tay-Sachs disease (TSD)
  3. Fragile X syndrome
  4. Canavan disease
  5. Familial dysautonomia

Results from the screening tests will be used to figure out your chance for having a baby with a genetic disorder. Your doctor may suggest undergoing genetic counseling for you and your partner so you can learn and consider your options.

Will the genetic results be used against me?

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) prohibits health insurers from requiring genetic tests or using results that will affect your health insurance coverage and rates. It’s also illegal for employers to use genetic information to make any decisions about a person’s employment.