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Ask Our Staff: Genetic Counseling Appointment

Posted on January 26, 2018
Certified Genetic Counselor Caitlin Austin, MS, CGC at Fort Sanders Perinatal Center helps parents decide if genetic counseling and prenatal genetic testing is needed to find out if their baby is at risk for a birth defect.
Caitlin Austin, MS, CGC

Dear Caitlin:

I’m 37 years old and pregnant with my first baby, so I’m meeting with a genetic counselor since my child is at a higher risk for a birth defect due to my age. What will happen at my first genetic counseling appointment?

We understand genetic counseling may sound like a scary thing. Our job is to give you helpful information, guidance, and hopefully peace of mind.

During your visit with us, we’ll review your family and pregnancy history. This will help us have a better idea of whether you’re at a higher risk for a baby with a birth defect. It’s important to remember this doesn’t doesn’t mean your baby is guaranteed to have a birth defect.

We’ll also provide information that is specific for how far along you are in your pregnancy. We’ll discuss certain risks and options for genetic screening and testing. And we’ll talk about what potential results might mean.

We will help connect you with resources and information you need to care for your baby if you decide to get genetic testing and a specific birth defect is found.

Bring all your questions to your appointment. Don’t hesitate to ask more questions as we cover all of the information about genetic testing and risk factors for birth defects. We understand the information can feel overwhelming. Potential or actual test results may make you feel scared. Not to mention, all of the unknowns of pregnancy are stressful enough. We’re here to help you.

You can read about what genetic testing actually does, here. For more information about genetic testing and birth defects, click here.

Who should consider genetic counseling?

Although anyone can receive genetic counseling and testing, we highly recommend it for:

  • Women older than 35 who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • Certain ethnicities or couples with increased risk
  • Couples who have a child with a birth defect
  • Couples who’ve had miscarriages

Speak with a Genetic Counselor

If you are interested in speaking with one of our certified genetic counselors like Caitlin Austin, MS, CGC, please call (865) 331-2020 for an appointment.

Depending on your insurance, you may need a referral from your primary care physician for genetic counseling to be a covered benefit.

Before you schedule an appointment, it is helpful to gather as much information as possible about the issues that are concerning you. We suggest you talk with family members and request medical records. If you have any questions about what you should have ready for your appointment, please call us at (865) 331-2020.

Disclaimer: please note that this information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice. If you have a specific medical question or issue, we encourage you to call our office at (865) 331-2020 and schedule an appointment.


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