Encourage Conscious Motherhood with Premarital Genetic Counselling

    Encourage Conscious Motherhood with Premarital Genetic Counselling

    Shruti Mathur

    Medical science has always been pioneering with new research and technologies. Professionals in health sector, maintain their best to apply new developments to make it available for the public. Be it treatment, management or surveillance. Such development in recent years has been seen in Genetics. Genetics has an impact on health of individuals, their offspring and future generations. Genetic diseases even when well managed constitute a huge burden to the family of the patient.


    The field of genetics have been used to give answers to certain questions –

    • “I have a family history (one or more individuals) of cancer/heart issues/ thalassemia, developmental delay, autism or other. Can it affect me?”
    • “I have a family history of certain conditions, but I am fine. Can it be passed to my child?”
    • “My first child had a medical condition. Can it happen to my next child?”
    • Couple facing multiple abortions. Can it be any genetic reason for it?
    • During pregnancy, I have been advised/ or want to understand about genetic screening!


    Genetics has integrated itself as a part of healthcare specialties like fetal medicine, gynaecology, child specialty, oncology, heart or eye or other speciality to understand and get more information on genetic association, which can guide the individual and family to understand associated risks.

    To get more information, one can schedule for a genetic counselling session where you can discuss in greater detail and better understanding points mentioned above.

    One question that comes in mind is to know what is a right time to go and meet a genetic counselor?

    You can ask your treating doctor to get more information on referrals for genetic studies or you can directly connect with a specialist near to you (attach a link) for further assessment.


    Genetic counselling usually seen to be scheduled at different stages:


    • post natal (new born/ infant – facing health condition suspected to be genetic)
    • pre natal (during pregnancy, with high risk for genetic screening or a family history)
    • pre – conception (before planning pregnancy, with other child diagnosed with genetic condition or a family history of certain condition).


    With coming of time and increase in awareness, we are seeing people coming for pre – marital genetic counselling. As the name goes, it is visiting for genetic counselling before marriage.


    One can schedule for Pre-marital genetic counselling session(s). If there is:


    • Family history of one or more affected family members with the related disorders.
    • Earlier age at onset of disease than expected
    • Disease in the absence of known risk factors (like environmental factors)
    • Chances due to Ethnicity for certain conditions
    • Screening for common genetic disorders (Such as, thalassaemia, Down syndrome, neural tube and congenital defects, muscular dystrophies)
    • Close biological relationship between parents (i.e., consanguinity)
    •  Or just a healthy discussion and future planning!


    Premarital counselling can play an important role in the management and possible prevention of many genetic disorders. It can aid as an important tool in the detection of genetic disorders and in the reduction of their incidence among a family.


    Such sessions can also play a role in understanding important measures which can help reduce the incidence of genetic diseases also in cases of old paternal and maternal age. Premarital counselling provides with opportunity to understand possible risks, ways to intervene and screen according to identified risks. The sessions are not to install fear and anxiety but provide with current scientific information to plan a healthy future.


    Once, the marriage proposal or prospects is there, one can schedule for a session for genetic counselling. The genetic counsellor, will first take your medical history and family history. Deduce and discuss associated genetic risks. Guide for further assessment, screening and testing if required. Provide with information, proper referrals and discussing your queries. 


    [The genetic counselling sessions are NOT TO opinionate or suggest on specific marriage proposals, but a healthy discussion to assess the risk and provide with details on how future couple can plan, have prior information and reduce for any specific genetic condition risk]

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