Individuals or families who are concerned about an inherited condition may benefit from a genetic consultation. The reasons that a person might be referred to a genetic counselor, medical geneticist, or other genetics professional include:
- A personal or family history of a genetic condition, birth defect, chromosomal disorder, or hereditary cancer.
- Two or more pregnancy losses (miscarriages), a stillbirth, or a baby who died.
- A child with a known inherited disorder, a birth defect, mental retardation, or developmental delay.
- A woman who is pregnant or plans to become pregnant at or after age 35. (Some chromosomal disorders occur more frequently in children born to older women.)
- Abnormal test results that suggest a genetic or chromosomal condition.
- An increased risk of developing or passing on a particular genetic disorder on the basis of a person’s ethnic background.
- People related by blood (for example, cousins) who plan to have children together. (A child whose parents are related may be at an increased risk of inheriting certain genetic disorders.)
A genetic consultation is also an important part of the decision-making process for genetic testing. A visit with a genetics professional may be helpful even if testing is not available for a specific condition, however.
- NLM National Library of Medicine