A genetic counselor is someone with a master’s degree in medical genetics who is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. Genetic counselors are part of a medical team, helping patients to understand the role of genetics in disease and the risk for disease.
Some of the duties of a genetic counselor include:
- Taking an extensive family history
- Identifying risk for genetic disease
- Determining which, if any, tests are indicated
- Educating patients on the testing process and their diagnosis
- Counseling patients to make informed decisions based on their diagnosis or risks
Genetic counseling is recommended for people with risk factors for genetic diseases, such as:
- abnormal test results during routine prenatal testing
- a previous child with a genetic disorder or birth defect
- women over 35 years of age at the time of pregnancy
- women of certain ethnic groups with a higher risk of genetic disorders
- women who have had three or more miscarriages
- anyone who routinely works with potentially hazardous materials like radiation, or chemicals
- anyone who has a birth defect or genetic disease
American Pregnancy Association. Genetic Counseling. Accessed: 17 Feb 2012.
March of Dimes. Genetic Counseling. Accessed: 17 Feb 2012.
Oakridge National Laboratory. Genetic Counseling, Human Genome Project Information. Accessed: 17 Feb 2012. http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/medicine/genecounseling.shtml .