When do you need to seek a genetic counselors services?

Genetic Counselors work with patients in a variety of situations. For example, you might consult with a genetic counselor if:

  1. You are pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant, and you are concerned about your baby’s health. For example, you might be:
    1. Concerned about an inherited condition in your family and want to know the risk of your baby having that condition
    2. Considering what common genetic tests your baby should have, such as for Down syndrome
  2. You are pregnant, had genetic testing and your baby received an abnormal test result
  3. You are struggling with infertility and are wondering what genetic testing might tell you
  4. You, your child or a family member has been diagnosed with a genetic condition
  5. A close relative has been diagnosed with cancer, Alzheimer’s disease or some other condition that may be due to an inherited gene, and you wonder if you or your children might have that gene
  6. You would like advice for sharing genetic information with relatives
  7. Your family has a history of birth defects or other genetic conditions

In all of these situations and many more, a genetic counselor will ask about your family health history, review your relevant health information and help you think through decisions.

Family History Resources

Before you start your counselling session, it’s important to compile and update all the information you have about your family health history, including any family members with health conditions, including intellectual disabilities, autism, birth defects, cancer or other diseases.

GenomeTalks helps you to create your family tree starting with you, your brothers and sisters, your children and your parents. If possible, expand your family tree to include your nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles, grandparents and cousins.

Then you should try to gather information about your family’s medical history, including:

  1. Age or date of birth, and cause of death for those who have died
  2. Medical problems any of them had and at what age (even approximately) they were affected, including:
    1. Abnormal sexual maturation or delayed puberty
    2. Autism
    3. Birth defects (spina bifida, cleft palate, heart defects, etc.)
    4. Cancer
    5. Diabetes
    6. Heart abnormalities
    7. Infertility
    8. Kidney disease
    9. Learning problems or intellectual disabilities
    10. Mental illness
    11. Multiple pregnancy losses or babies who died in infancy
    12. Stroke
    13. Unexplained medical conditions
    14. Unique skin spots or patterns (cafe-au-laits, shagreen patches, port wine stains, etc.)
    15. Very tall or short stature compared to rest of the family
    16. Vision or hearing loss at a young age
      1. Young/early deaths due to known or unknown medical conditions
  3. For those who have medical problems, include any information that might be helpful, such as whether they smoke, exercise, are overweight, etc.