What is Genetic Counseling?

In the past, genetic counseling was limited to limitations in genomic understanding and technology, however this is beginning to change. Genetic counseling is becoming an expanding discipline in the age of genome medicine. This unique medical field offers basic educational, therapeutic, and interpersonal support to patients and families dealing with genetic disorders and diseases identified through genetic testing. The primary goal of genetic counseling is the prevention of genetic disorders and diseases. This includes genetic counseling with respect to insurance eligibility, screening for genetic disorders, management of genetic disorder symptoms, treatment management, and ongoing genetic counseling. The primary objective of genetic counseling is to provide the basic knowledge of genetic testing for individuals, and families as well as the education regarding potential genetic risks and benefits. Some genetic counselors provide primary care and case management of genetic conditions.

The primary function of genetic counseling is to provide educational information and assistance with the genetic counseling and treatment of genetic conditions such as Cancer, Alzheimer disease (AD), Autism Spectrum Disorder, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), and Cardiac conditions in adults. These disorders have no cure and can be the result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The use of advanced genetic testing and imaging technologies for identifying and monitoring disease progression in patients with these disorders has increased the opportunities for earlier diagnosis and treatment.

In the past, genetic counseling was limited to the detection and treatment of genetic disorders in patients with birth defects. Today, genetic counseling has evolved to include newborn screening for genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, obesity, Fanconi syndrome, sickle cell disease, multiple sclerosis, and Williams Syndrome. Newborn screening for genetic disorders is considered one of the most important components of genetic counseling and is used in approximately 20% of all genetic testing samples taken from patients with genetic disorders.

Pediatric genetic counseling is another emerging field within the field of genetic counseling. With the increase in genetic testing for both children and adults, pediatric genetic counseling helps families plan prenatal care, develop services in support of a healthy pregnancy and delivery, counsel patients on genetic counseling options, and provide referrals to other health professionals. Prenatal genetic counseling can help identify genetic disorders that may be potentially serious during pregnancy, such as Down syndrome, and can be instrumental in deciding on a treatment plan including genetic counseling, adoption, or fertility treatments.

Ongoing research studies are examining the role genetics and  environment, and cognitive skills in the development of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and autism. Scientists are particularly interested in studying the possible genetic link between inflammatory conditions and Alzheimer’s disease. Genetic counseling can also help individuals make sense of their family history of disease and place it into context, helping them build healthier relationships with others. As genetic counseling becomes more popular and is integrated into the overall health picture, clinics and organizations offering this service will likely continue to grow in size. This will likely be a boon to those suffering from genetic disorders and can possibly even assist those with Alzheimer’s in maintaining a quality of life long after the disease has been diagnosed.

For those considering genetic counseling or expecting a child, the American Association of Genetics and Human Biology offers a genetic counseling training program. The program teaches prenatal genetic counseling students how to become professional counselors and what questions to ask and how to conduct themselves when working with couples, families, and patients. Prenatal genetic counseling can be performed by amateurs and professionals alike; however, a background in genetics is essential to this line of work.

Interested in genetic testing or want to learn more about your options?

Scientific advances reinforce the ever growing need for genetic testing. Vita’s Vision: To provide all individuals with genetic testing options (Test.), facilitate understanding of personal genetics (Know.), accelerate learning and interpretation of personal genetics (Educate.), create actionable implementation of genetic knowledge (Advocate.).

Our ultimate goal or Mission is to make personalized medicine accessible for every person and their family, and we plan to accomplish this goal through our vision.

Ready to join us on our Mission? Learn more about your personal and family genetic makeup and personalized medicine options through our genetic test offerings. These include:

Hereditary Cancer Screening (CGx)
Hereditary Cardiac Screening (CARx)
Diabetes-Obesity Screening
Pharmacogenomics (PGx)
More Coming Soon!

Even better news, with qualifying insurance, this test can cost you nothing out of pocket. Click here to schedule a call with one of Vita Medical’s Patient Services Consultants to find out your eligibility.

Call us 1.800.590.9292 (toll free) or email at [email protected]

Test. Know. Educate. Advocate.