The Benefits of Early Pregnancy Genetic Counseling

Pregnancy is a joyous, thrilling time, but it’s also fraught with worry, as you do everything you can to support your growing baby’s health. Common self-care during pregnancy that has been found to improve your odds of having a healthy birth include abstaining from alcohol and tobacco and partaking in gentler, rather than taxing physical exercise

Another concern of moms-to-be is whether their baby is at risk for a serious genetic condition, such as Down Syndrome, sickle cell disease, or cystic fibrosis. Dr. Kevin Hooker provides complete, advanced, and gentle prenatal care, from the moment you learn you're pregnant through your birth.

Lake Havasu OB/GYN Care offers early pregnancy genetic counseling, which helps you learn all you can about your baby’s future health. 

Why would I need genetic counseling early in my pregnancy? 

Early pregnancy genetic counseling is a critical part of a sound prenatal care approach.  

A deep dive into both parents’ individual and family medical histories is necessary to get started. Dr. Hooker evaluates whether there are any diseases in your family such as:

Dr. Hooker believes that genetic counseling for every pregnant woman or couple is powerful, as it’s the precursor to standard genetic testing that all women get, as well as other tests specifically for those in high-risk pregnancies.

What do we investigate during genetic counseling?

Dr. Hooker talks to you about multiple factors that can increase your baby’s risk for a genetic disorder. He will ask if you:

Once Dr. Hooker has ascertained the answers to these questions, he has a picture of your familial health history, combined with your pregnancy, that’s as complete as can be.

Genetic counseling informs prenatal testing recommendations

The results of your genetic counseling sessions will inform which prenatal tests Dr. Hooker recommends. 

Remember that these tests are indicators of risk. For example, they don’t tell you definitively that your baby will or won’t have a chromosomal abnormality, but they raise awareness of the likelihood of a potential problem.  

That said, there are false-positives and false-negatives that occur, and Dr. Hooker explains what genetic testing can and can’t tell you, and answers all your questions.

Genetic testing can help parents learn more about a condition their child may have and prepare for caring for them. 

Dr. Hooker and Lake Havasu OB/GYN Care’s supportive staff is with you for every step of your pregnancy, including and especially the uncertain ones. 

What are the early pregnancy genetic tests that are performed?

A combined test you get between 11 and 14 weeks in your pregnancy is done through both a blood sample and ultrasound imaging. These tests indicate your risk of carrying a baby who has Down Syndrome or Trisomy 18, a disorder that affects organ growth and causes substantial intellectual developmental deficits. There is a high pre-birth and infant mortality rate for these babies.

Another test Dr. Hooker performs is called chorionic villus sampling, and can also provide information on whether your baby might have a disease you and your partner may carry, or other genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis. 

This test is usually performed if you had concerning results from earlier genetic testing. 

Amniocentesis is a helpful screening that can detect not only genetic problems and neural tube defects like spina bifida, but also lung development deficiencies and whether your baby has an infection. 

The risk of miscarriage is relatively low for these tests, but Dr. Hooker discusses the risk involved in relation to your particular situation in detail.

Early genetic counseling and high risk pregnancy

Of course, you’ll be more concerned about getting any test if Dr. Hooker has identified you as being in the high-risk group. This means that you go into the pregnancy with risk factors such as a chronic condition, an autoimmune disease, a history of miscarriages, or age (if you’re older than 35).

Knowledge is power

If you’re pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant, talk to Dr. Hooker about early pregnancy genetics counseling and the important information it can provide in terms of guiding your prenatal care. Call our office to schedule a consultation, or book one online.

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