What is a Genetic Counselor? 

A Genetic Counselor (GC) is a health care professional with a master’s degree in human genetics and counseling. This training enables GCs to discuss technical genetic information in practical, useful terms. Carnegie Imaging for Women’s GC’s are employees of Sema4, a leader in genetic lab services. They are available for virtual or in-person consultation 

What Happens During A Prenatal Genetic Counseling Session? 

  • The GC evaluates your prenatal genetic questionnaire and your relevant medical history. 
  • The GC constructs a 3-generation family tree including all medical problems that could be inherited. 
  • The GC reviews any genetic testing you and your relatives have had and may review other relevant labs. 
  • Applying standard genetic analysis to all the information you have provided, the GC then provides an assessment of  your risk for having a child affected with a certain  birth defect or  genetic condition. 
  • Both family specific and standard general population risks are included. 
  • The GC explains the identified risk and discusses the testing options available, including their risk, benefits, and limitations. 
  • Written educational materials and / or information about community resources are provided when appropriate 
  • You have the opportunity to ask questions about any genetic concerns you may have.
  • Based on your knowledge and your judgment, you decide whether to have any genetic testing. 
  • The decision to consent to or to refuse any genetic procedure or testing is entirely yours. 

Who Should Consider Prenatal Genetic Counseling? 

  • Anyone who has questions about a disease or a condition that runs in the family. 
  • Anyone with a family history of an inherited disorder, birth defect or intellectual disability  
  • Anyone with abnormal results from a genetic screening or diagnostic test. 
  • A woman who will be 35 years old or older when her baby is born. 
  • A woman who has had two or more unexplained miscarriages or early infant deaths. 
  • Couples who are first cousins or other close blood relatives. 
  • Couples with infertility thought to have a genetic cause. 
  • Men with congenital bilateral absence of the vas deferens (CBAVD). 

How Does A GC Work with My Doctor(s)? 

  • Either your primary doctor or specialist can refer you to the GC for genetic counseling. 
  • After the genetic counseling session, the GC sends a summary report to your doctor(s). 

What is Cancer Genetic Counseling? 

Genetic counseling for cancer involves first meeting with a doctor who can explain how inherited cancer risks are passed from parents to children, what your risk may be, and what tests are available. During your appointment, your doctor will review your family history for certain types of cancer and advise whether they believe you are at a higher risk. They may also explain what types of cancer screening are available (such as mammograms for breast cancer or colonoscopy for colorectal cancer) and what type of screenings they may recommend for you. If you decide to move forward with genetic testing for a higher risk of cancer, your doctor will work with you throughout the process to explain what your results mean. If your results are positive, you will then meet with a genetic counselor.  

What is Prenatal Genetic Counseling? 

Genetic counseling during pregnancy, or prenatal genetic counseling, involves meeting with a genetic counselor if you have a higher risk of having a child with a birth defect or genetic condition. During your appointment, your genetic counselor will review results from any genetic testing, explain your risk, discuss options for prenatal screening and testing, or review alternative reproductive options such as in-vitro fertilization, preimplantation genetic testing or sperm or egg donation. Prenatal genetic counseling can be chosen by those who are already pregnant, those who are planning to get pregnant, or those still considering whether to have a child 

Is Genetic Counseling Covered by Insurance? 

Health insurance typically covers genetic counseling, especially if it has been recommended by your doctor. However, policies vary, so it is best to check with your insurance provider before scheduling your first genetic counseling appointment.  

Are There Different Kinds of Genetic Counselors? 

Genetic counselors may work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, health clinics, or research institutions. As such, a genetic counselor may specialize in counseling for a certain medical specialty including prenatal care, pediatrics, oncology, or neurology. At Carnegie Imaging, you will meet with a genetic counselor from Sema4 who has expertise in prenatal genetics.   

At Carnegie Imaging, our Medical Geneticist , Dr. Tamar Goldwaseris a board certified Medical Geneticist and Obstetrician/Gynecologist.  She has particular expertise in reproductive, prenatal and adult cancer genetics.