Is genetic counselling necessary?

Genetic disorders include Down’s syndrome, familial hypercholesterolaemia, cystic fibrosis, sickle-cell anaemia, thallasaemia, Tay-Sachs disease, haemophilia and Duchenne muscular dystrophy. If either you or your partner have a history of genetic disease in your extended family then you should seek counselling.

The aim is to determine the risk you run of passing on an inheritable disease to your child and then to help you decide whether to go ahead and conceive a baby.

Genetic counselling is advised if a previous child has been born with a genetic disorder such as Down’s Syndrome or a congenital defect such as club foot (talipes).

It’s also advised if there’s a family history of learning disabilities or abnormal development, if there is a blood relationship between you and your partner, or if you have a history of repeated miscarriages.

The number of tests for genetic diseases is increasing yearly, although they cannot predict the severity of the condition. Not all carriers of a defective gene inherit the disorder.

The counsellor will explain the condition and your family pattern of inheritance. The ultimate decision about whether to attempt to conceive or to go ahead with an existing pregnancy will always rest with you, the parents.