Genetic counseling is a process where medical experts carry out genetic tests and look at your family history and medical records. The aim is to identify the possibility of you passing any genetic disorders to your baby.

Genetic disorders are caused by a defect in a parent's genes. Some of the genetic disorders that can be identified through testing are:
  • Down's syndrome
  • cystic cystic fibrosis
  • sickle cell
  • Tay-Sachs disease (a fatal disease affecting the central nervous system)
  • spina bifida.
Genetic counseling also involves:
  • educating the parents so they understand the nature of the genetic disorder.
  • counseling and psychological support.
  • providing the necessary information on support groups and services.
Your doctor may refer you for genetic counseling if:
  • either you or your husband has a parent or a close relative with an inherited disease or birth defect.
  • either your or your husband already has children with birth defects or genetic disorders.
  • if you are over 35.
  • you have had miscarriages before.
  • a standard prenatal screening test yields an abnormal result.
Ideally, it is best to seek genetic counseling before you become pregnant if either of the first two risk factors apply.

Genetic counseling services are now gaining popularity in India and are available at some 40 or so centres spread across the country. They are usually located at reputed hospitals in cities, such as Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Pune.


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