Genetic Counseling

Genetic Counseling

Genetic counseling is guidance given by a health professional (genetic counselor or medical geneticist) who is trained to help people understand their risk of getting a disease related to genetics or of having a child with an inherited (genetic) disease, such as sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, or hemophilia.

Genetic counseling may involve:

  • Teaching a parent or couple about how a specific disease is inherited or passed from parents to a child.
  • Discussing what problems a genetic disease may cause.
  • Discussing whether and how to test for a genetic disease before a woman becomes pregnant or before a child is born.
  • Discussing the likelihood, based on test results, that the couple will have a child with a genetic disease.
  • Helping a person adapt to the risk of developing a genetic disease such as Huntington's disease. Genetic counselors also can help a person deal with having a disease related to genetics.
  • Helping individuals, couples, or families make decisions about genetic testing and any related actions that are right for them.

Last Revised: November 3, 2011

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Siobhan M. Dolan, MD, MPH - Reproductive Genetics

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