The information from genetic testing can have a big impact on your life. Medical geneticists and genetic counselors are trained to help you understand your 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. A genetic counselor can help you make well-informed decisions. Ask to have genetic counseling before making a decision about testing. Genetic counseling may involve:
- Discussing what problems an inherited disease may cause.
- Teaching you and your partner about how a specific disease is inherited or passed from you to your child.
- Discussing whether and how to test for an inherited disease before you become pregnant or before your child is born.
- Discussing the likelihood that you and your partner will have a child with an inherited disease, based on test results.
Genetic counseling can help you and your family:
- Understand medical facts, including what causes diseases, how a diagnosis is made, and what you may be able to do to help yourself manage a disease.
- Understand how your family history contributes to the development of a disease.
- Understand what you can do to help prevent a disease.
- Learn about caring for a family member who has a genetic disease, including getting referrals to specialists or joining support groups.
Medical geneticists and genetic counselors are trained to help you and your family make informed decisions that are right for you. They are sensitive to physical and emotional aspects of these decisions. Your privacy and confidentiality are carefully protected.