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Caitlin Austin Earns Prestigious Honor

Posted on November 18, 2016

Excellence in High-Risk Pregnancy Care by Expert Providers

Caitlin Austin, MMSc, GC
Caitlin Austin, MMSc, GC

To find evidence of the caliber of medical professionals at Fort Sanders Perinatal Center, you need look no further than one of the newest member of our staff. Caitlin Austin, genetic counselor, was recently invited to deliver a presentation at the National Society of Genetic Counselors Annual Education Conference – a great honor among her peers.

Researching Turner Syndrome

The conference took place in Seattle, Washington, Sept. 28 – Oct. 1, and Caitlin took the stage in a main assembly meeting to share some of her experience working with families affected by Turner Syndrome, a chromosomal disorder characterized by a female’s absence of part or all of a second sex chromosome in some or all cells. Having conducted graduate study research at Emory University where she received her Master’s degree in Medical Science in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling, Caitlin possesses a wealth of knowledge on Turner Syndrome.

Turner syndrome may prevent a girl from growing to a normal height, going through puberty, or in the case of older patients, can prevent pregnancy. It can be medically managed through various screenings and treatment options.

I worked with a pediatric endocrinologist in a clinic that specialized in Turner Syndrome, and just from talking with parents I realized that many had never seen a genetic counselor. So the goal was to compare the parents who had seen a genetic counselor to those who hadn’t seen a genetic counselor to see if there were differences in their knowledge about Turner Syndrome, as well as their psychological adaptation to the diagnosis.

Caitlin’s research indicated there was indeed a difference in the two sets of parents. Those who had received genetic counseling were better informed, but also coped with the diagnosis more readily.
Any parent who learns a child is going to have to struggle with a medical condition long term will have some ongoing concerns, but Caitlin explains that a diagnosis of a genetic nature carries extra weight.

Genetics is a little bit unique in that it affects not only the patient, but the whole family since we all share our genes.

Caitlin Austin, genetic counselor, earns prestigious honor to present at the National Society of Genetic Counselors Annual Education Conference.A Prestigious Honor

The national conference focuses specifically on the educational needs of genetic counselors, and addresses a wide variety of genetic counseling practice areas, providing the latest information for the genetic counseling profession. Caitlin was honored to be invited to assist in the process of educating her peers.

The conference attendees include genetic counselors and other medical professionals from across the country as well as genetic counseling students. Caitlin had attended the conference in the past as a student, not knowing she would one day get the great honor to be among those taking center stage.

Genetic Counseling at Fort Sanders Perinatal Center

Genetic counseling can help expecting parents prepare for a birth that includes disorders like Turner Syndrome, so the whole family can more easily adjust and respond to whatever special needs the new addition to the family may have. “We also talk about family histories if there’s something that could potentially be passed on to the baby. We help them know the risks, and understand how it’s passed on,” Caitlin says. “And if there’s some finding on ultrasound like an abnormality that has a genetic component we help them understand what it is, and see if they want to get testing.”

Fort Sanders Perinatal Center provides complete high-risk pregnancy care for women 35 years or older, with multiples, pregnancy complications, history of birth defects, and medical problems such as diabetes or hypertension.

Make An Appointment

To learn more about the center’s high risk pregnancy services, call (865) 331-2020.

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