At Valley Children’s Hospital, genetic counseling is available to anyone who is pregnant or planning a pregnancy, as an extra precaution to identify if there is a genetic or any condition that may require specialized or comprehensive planning. Genetic conditions are caused by changes in the DNA; however, not all are hereditary as some are sporadic or can happen by chance. Sometimes a person is referred for genetic counseling without any genetic medical history in their family, so it can be surprising to be referred to genetic services during a pregnancy.
Valley Children’s Maternal Fetal Center is a designated prenatal diagnostic center (PDC) for the California Prenatal Screening Program with locations in Madera, Merced and Visalia, and the ability to perform current appropriate screening or diagnostic tests. Our experienced, board-certified genetic counselors are readily available to provide you with the support and information you need to learn more about the health of your pregnancy.
Genetic counselors are master’s-trained healthcare professionals who are experts both in medical genetics and counseling theory. They provide medical education in addition to emotional support. They will analyze your family and your own medical history, and help you understand your personalized chances of genetic conditions occurring. They can explain benefits and limitations of testing options and help you decide on the best plan for you and your family. If you have genetic testing during your pregnancy, a genetic counselor will personally review results with you to ensure you are fully informed and understand the health of your pregnancy. Genetic counselors support their patients in informed decision-making in a session that can last up to an hour, and interpreter services are available in a variety of languages.
Reasons to see a genetic counselor during pregnancy or when planning a pregnancy include:
- Interest in genetic carrier screening for yourself and your partner
- Interest in discussing chances for chromosomal conditions, such as Down syndrome
- History of a previous child with a birth difference/defect, developmental delay or other genetic condition
- History of multiple unexplained miscarriages or cases of unexplained infant deaths
- Consanguineous union (cousins or otherwise blood related)
- Maternal age of 35-years-old or older at time of delivery for a single pregnancy; 33-years-old or older at time of delivery for twin pregnancy
- Current pregnancy with anomalies identified by ultrasound
- Current pregnancy with an abnormal genetic screening test
- Personal or family history of a genetic condition
Meet Our Genetic Counselors