Genetic testing before pregnancy is something that has become more popular for a variety of reasons. Whether you are a woman over 35 who is concerned about possible birth defects, or you have a family history of a particular health issue, a genetic test can be an effective way to gather additional information. Genetic tests come in a variety of different forms, and which type you get will depend on what you are looking for.
So what exactly is a genetic test? Pre-pregnancy tests are often referred to as “screening” tests, because they are looking for specific markers that may signify abnormal genes. If the screening tests find any gene issues, doctors can take a closer look at the degree of risk the baby may have of inheriting the condition. The test itself is easy: It’s a simple blood test. We administer them all the time at Women’s Healthcare Associates.
Why get a genetic test?
Should you get a genetic test if you’re thinking about becoming pregnant? This is a question only you can answer, ideally with some input from your OB/GYN. Some women appreciate the peace of mind this type of procedure can offer, while others may simply want to know as much as they can about any risks they may be taking if they decide to have a baby. Screening tests offer women the chance to find out information prior to getting pregnant so an informed choice can be made ahead of time, which is ideal.
Any OB/GYN clinic should be able to perform basic screening tests that look for the most common genetic disorders. Conditions that are often tested for include:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Tay-Sachs disease
- Fragile X syndrome
If a genetic marker for a particular condition is identified, further evaluations can be made as to the percentage of risk based on factors such as the mother’s age, the father’s genetic makeup, and more. Your OB/GYN will talk you through the results if something is of concern.
Additional screenings and coverage
Some forms of genetic testing may be covered by your insurance plan, while others may not. It’s important to find out ahead of time what your coverage is, so that you know what portion of the testing you will be responsible for, if any. Contact your health insurance provider for additional information.
Once you are pregnant, a number of other screening tests may take place during the course of your pregnancy to make sure your baby is healthy. Your physician will let you know when these will occur. If there is concern about genetic disorders once you are pregnant, your doctor may suggest performing an amniocentesis to make a diagnosis. They may also order an ultrasound to take a closer look. If you have any questions about genetic screening tests, feel free to contact Women’s Healthcare Associates to learn more. We’ve administered these tests to countless women at our obstetrics office serving Houston-area families, and we’ll talk you through the details.
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