Genetic testing before and during pregnancy can help many families make better decisions regarding the well-being of themselves and their baby.
Some ethnic groups and women over 34 years old are more likely to have babies with a genetic disorder or a severe birth defect. Although severe birth defects are quite rare, when they do occur, they may not only affect the health of the baby, but also the health of the mother, making genetic testing a must.
While genetic testing does have its limitations, as it can’t show how aggressive the symptoms will be or how the disorder will progress, it can shed some light on the long-term health of the baby.
Some genetic disorders require immediate care to prevent further damage to the baby. Our team of OB/GYNs at The Association for Women's Health Care wants to inform you about who’s at risk of having a baby with a genetic disorder and what genetic tests are available.
Risk factors for genetic disorders
Being part of a certain ethnic group, giving birth after 34 years old, or having a relative who suffers from a genetic disorder may increase your risk of having a child with a genetic disorder.
A good example of a genetic disorder that’s more common in certain ethnic groups is Sickle Cell Disease, which appears in individuals of African, African American, and Mediterranean descent.
Individuals who are of Ashkenazi Jewish and French Canadian ancestry are more likely to develop Tay-Sachs disease.
Setting ancestry and age aside, here are a few more risk factors that may make you a good candidate for genetic testing:
- Having a relative with a genetic disorder
- Having a previous child with a genetic disorder
- Having several miscarriages
Although not all miscarriages are caused by a genetic defect, it's worth investigating what caused your miscarriage and finding out the treatment options.
What type of genetic testing is available during pregnancy?
In the first trimester of pregnancy, ultrasounds are done regularly to check the health of the baby.
But if you want to dig even further, you may opt for chorionic villus sampling (CVS), a testing method that uses a sample of cells from the placenta to look for genetic disorders. You can get this type of test during the first trimester of your pregnancy.
Amniocentesis is another testing method that can shed some light on what genetic disorders your baby is at risk of developing, whether your baby’s lungs are healthy, and whether there’s a risk of premature birth. This type of test is usually done during the second trimester.
Genetic testing prepares you for the future
Some families want to know ahead of time how their lives will change if their child is born with a genetic disorder. In some cases, a baby needs immediate treatment after birth to prevent further complications.
To find out whether you and your baby are safe, get in touch with our team of OB/GYNs in Chicago, Illinois, to find out whether your baby is at risk of developing a genetic disease, as well as what you can do about it.