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What is "genetic counseling"?

Prenatal Genetic Counseling

Kathryn J. Shaw (Maternal-Fetal Medicine, White Memorial Medical Center, Los Angeles) gives expert video advice on: What is "genetic counseling"?; What will be discussed during a genetic counseling session?; How do I know when I need genetic counseling?

What is "genetic counseling"?

Genetic counseling is a specific experience that the mother, or any individual, might be recommended to have whereby an individual with expertise in the area of genetics will sit down with the individual, take a detailed history, and identify if there are genetic risks, if there are disorders within the family that may be inherited, to attempt to determine what that pattern of inheritance might be. In a genetic session, the individual would be advised what the risks are for either acquiring the disease or what the impact of that disease might be on either that individual or their children.

What will be discussed during a genetic counseling session?

In a session of genetic counselling, the first item to be discussed is what the indication for the referral to genetic counselling was in the first place. Sometimes the referral to genetic counselling is a general issue, such as one related to maternal age. Alternatively there may be a disease within that family that the patient is concerned about that may be inherited, so a detailed history would be taken during genetic counselling that would not only involve that individual's history, but also her parent's, her grandparent's, her partner's family history as well.