One of the options that’s probably going to be offered to you during your pregnancy is prenatal genetic testing. When you have this kind of testing, a genetic counselor will work with you to collect and interpret genetic information that may make it likely that your baby will be prone to a genetic disorder or another form of birth defect. She’ll also show you what kinds of treatment options might be available.
There are some specific kinds of situations in which you might want to consider having prenatal genetic testing. They include:
- Your age. If you’re 35 or over, the chances of having a baby with Down Syndrome or another chromosomal abnormality start to increase greatly, so testing can help you prepare for this possibility.
- Family history. If you or your partner or any family members have birth defects or genetic disorders, it can be useful to have testing.
- Miscarriage history. If you’ve had three miscarriages or more, there might be a genetic problem. Also, if you’ve had a stillbirth, you may want to look into prenatal genetic testing.
- Health history. Epilepsy, diabetes, or having had chemotherapy can all raise the risk of a genetic problem. The same is true for certain types of medications.
- Exposure to toxic chemicals. If you or your partner have been exposed to radiation, toxic chemicals, or other substances that can cause birth defects, it’s worth getting checked.
- Close family relation. If the baby’s father is a first cousin or other similar close blood relative, risks of genetic abnormalities are quite high.
- Your ethnicity. Some ethnicities are prone to specific conditions like sickle cell anemia or Tay-Sachs.
- Drug or alcohol use during pregnancy. These things can cause serious problems with your baby.
- Infections during pregnancy. Rubella and Chicken Pox during pregnancy can also lead to certain types of birth defects.
None of these factors (or even having several of them) guarantee that there’s going to be a problem with your baby. They just make it worth considering whether you might want to have genetic testing.
So, what about you? Have you had prenatal genetic testing? Would you consider it if your doctor thinks you’re at risk?