Reasons for Genetic Counseling
Genetic Counselors provide information and support to patients and families in many different specialty clinic settings. More specific information regarding common reasons patients are referred for genetic counseling can be found here.
A pediatric genetic counselor works with newborns, infants, and children with known or suspected genetic conditions and/or birth defects. Usually a child will be initially seen by a geneticist (genetics doctor) in addition to the genetic counselor. The geneticist is trained to perform a clinical evaluation and is the one who can actually diagnose your child with a genetic disorder.
A genetic counselor working in newborn screening specializes in public health genetics, metabolic and endocrine diseases, hemoglobinopathies, primary immune disease, cystic fibrosis, hearing loss, and critical heart disease. Newborn screening genetic counselors may work for the state health department or meet with babies and their families in clinic.
A cancer genetic counselor meets with individuals and families to help them understand if they have a higher risk of cancer due to a hereditary cancer condition. Most cancers occur due to non-inherited causes, such as changes with increasing age, and exposures such as tobacco use. About 10% of all cancers are hereditary. In hereditary cancer families, multiple relatives have an increased risk for specific cancers. Families with hereditary risk can make informed medical decisions, to optimize cancer prevention and early detection.