We have access to far more medical technology today than our mothers or grandmothers. This provides us a better opportunity to identify risk factors and problems early. One key method we use to do this is genetic testing. Many of our patients wonder if they should have genetic testing before they conceive.
What Is Genetic Testing?
If you receive the same faulty gene from each parent, then you are more likely to develop the genetic disorder related to that gene. If only one parent has the gene, then you won’t have the disorder, but you will be a carrier for it. That means that if your partner has the faulty gene as well, then your child may be born with the disorder.
A doctor can collect a small saliva or blood sample from you before you become pregnant. These are sent to a lab for genetic testing. You can also do this on your own with an at-home kit that you send directly to a lab.
The test will review your DNA and identify genes that are linked to diseases. A standard genetic test will look for fragile X syndrome, cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy, Tay-Sachs disease, and blood disorders like sickle cell disease. New versions of the test can look for over 400 other disorders, including those that are very rare.
Who Should Undergo Genetic Testing?
If either parent has a genetic disorder in their family history, then they should be tested. Genetic testing is also recommended for higher-risk ethnic groups like those who are Ashkenazi Jewish, African American, Southeast Asian, or Mediterranean.
How Do I Get Started?
The first step in genetic testing is to talk to your obstetrician. Let them know that you plan to get pregnant. They can provide advice and help you through the process. Contact our West Bloomfield office today to schedule a visit with an OB/GYN.