Is preconception genetic testing right for me?
There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding to conceive a child. Genetic testing can be a sensitive issue for some. It is important to talk openly with your doctor about any possible genetic risks and then consider your options.
Factors For Genetic Testing Consideration
A thorough health history can help decide if genetic testing should be considered. Factors include:
- You and your spouses age
- Ethnic background*
- Family History
- Medical History
Common Genetic diseases related to your ethnicity include:
- Sickle cell anemia (most common in people of African heritage)
- Thalassemia (occurs most frequently in people of Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Asian and African ancestry)
- Tay-Sachs disease (most common among Ashkenazi Jews)
- Cystic fibrosis (most likely to occur if there’s a family history of cystic fibrosis — people with Caucasian background are more likely be affected than other ethnicity)
- Fragile X Syndrome
- Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
If a thorough medical history suggests the possibility of a genetic disease, your doctor will probably recommend that you and your partner be screened to see if either (or both) of you carry a gene. The test can be done through blood testing.
Ultimately, the decision should be made by you and your partner. We recommend to speak to a genetic counselor (it is a free phone call) before scheduling the test so that all your questions/concerns are addressed. All genetic companies (such as Natera, Good Start Genetics, Recombine, etc) offer a free phone consult before doing the test, and if any of the screens come back positive for one of the common genetic diseases noted above. There’s no right answer, only the answer that’s right for you and your family.