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Genetic Test

How To Prepare

You do not need to do anything before you have this test.

Talk with your doctor about any concerns you have regarding the need for the test, its risks, how it will be done, or what the results will mean. To help you understand the importance of this test, fill out the medical test information form(What is a PDF document?).

Since the information obtained from a genetic test can have a profound impact on your life, you may want to see a doctor who specializes in genetics (geneticist) or a genetic counselor. This type of counselor is trained to help you understand your risk for developing a genetic disease or having a child who has an inherited (genetic) disease, such as sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis, or hemophilia. A genetic counselor can help you make well-informed decisions. Ask to have genetic counseling before making a decision about genetic testing.

How It Is Done

A genetic test can be done using almost any cell or tissue from the body.

Blood sample from a heel stick

If genetic testing is done on a baby, a heel stick usually is done instead of a blood draw from a vein. For a heel stick blood sample, several drops of blood are collected from the heel of the baby. The skin of the heel is cleaned with alcohol and then pricked with a small, sterile lancet. Several drops of blood are collected inside circles on a specially prepared piece of paper. When enough blood has been collected, a gauze pad or cotton ball is placed over the puncture site. Pressure is applied to the puncture site briefly, and then a small bandage is usually placed over it.

Blood sample from a vein

The health professional drawing your blood will:

  • Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is easier to put a needle into the vein.
  • Clean the needle site with alcohol.
  • Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick may be needed.
  • Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with blood.
  • Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is collected.
  • Apply a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as the needle is removed.
  • Apply pressure to the site and then a bandage.

Cell sample from a fetus

For this type of testing, cells are collected from the fetus using amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling.

To learn more, see:

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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