Benefits of Pre-Conceptual Genetic and Maternal-Fetal Medicine Consultation

April 30, 2019

The decision to become a parent can be an exciting and overwhelming time. Part of the process of planning to start a family may be a discussion with healthcare professionals including genetic counselors and maternal-fetal medicine specialists. Today, it is easier than ever to speak with experts about your questions and concerns.

Medical Conditions

Many individuals may have medical conditions that were diagnosed as children, or even more recently. Hypertension, diabetes, thyroid conditions, and other common medical conditions may be a reason to consult with healthcare professionals before pregnancy. This could be a conversation regarding the underlying concerns during pregnancy for untreated disease or they may discuss the medications you currently take to manage your health condition. Many individuals take medications during pregnancy to manage their common medical conditions. Discussing the appropriate type and dosage of these medications can a helpful first step before pregnancy.

Genetic Conditions and Carrier Screening

Do you have a family history of a genetic condition? What is the current risk to your future pregnancies? What is carrier screening? These are all questions that individuals often consider before pregnancy.

If you have a family history of a genetic condition, genetic counselors are able to assess this information and discuss the possible risks to future pregnancies. They may also discuss the ability to perform genetic testing during pregnancy. There are many different types of genetic conditions and many different causes of genetic conditions. A genetic counselor is able to assess this information and present this in a clear way. This enables you to move forward with a better understanding of the management and risks for your future pregnancies.

What is carrier screening? We all have two copies of our genes. Everyone has the possibility to be a carrier for a condition meaning they have one copy of a gene that is not working. Carriers do not typically have symptoms of a condition. We see that individuals with these conditions have inherited a not working copy of a gene from each parent. Before pregnancy, some individuals may have carrier screening to determine whether they are at an increased risk to have a child with a condition.

All Pregnancies Are Different – Catering to Your Needs

Sometimes conception occurs quickly. Other times conception may take time and careful planning. All individuals and all situations are uniquely different. Some individuals have a pregnancy history that is uncomplicated, while others may have complications noted during pregnancy. Consultation with a maternal fetal medicine specialist may be helpful in understanding how your history relates to your future pregnancies.

A Thoughtful Plan

Meeting with a genetic counselor or maternal-fetal medicine specialist may be helpful in many ways. This consultation may help with the organization of your concerns and set your goals for before and during your pregnancies. It may provide you with preliminary information regarding what to expect within a pregnancy. It may provide you with a better risk assessment regarding possible genetic conditions or common medical conditions for your future pregnancies. Or it may provide you with the resources you need to prepare for pregnancy and beginning a family. Ultimately this consultation is meant to help address your concerns, set a common goal, and provide you with information moving forward.