Gene-linked abnormalities are disorders resulting from one or more abnormalities formed in a genome during gestation. This genetic problem can be caused not only by an abnormal number of chromosomes, but also by harmful genes. A well known example of a gene-linked abnormality is sickle-cell anemia. Sickle-cell anemia is a genetic disorder in which there are not enough healthy red blood cells to sufficiently carry oxygen through the body. The gene for the disorder is passed through generations with a pattern of inheritance.
Sickle-cell anemia often occurs in African Americans with about one in ten being a carrier of the disease. Symptoms of sickle-cell include anemia, episodes of pain, and swelling of hands and feet. There are plenty of health concerns and complications included with sickle-cell. While there are many treatments that can aid in pain, there is no cure for the abnormality. Genetic counseling is an evaluation method for a family to understand their risk of health conditions that may run in the family.
This testing must be completed by a certified genetic counselor or a doctor/nurse specializing in genetic counseling.
Genetic counseling aids families that may carry hereditary health conditions or may be at risk of giving birth to a child that will develop health conditions. If birth defects or medical conditions run in a family, it is advised to attend genetic counseling to receive education on how these factors may affect your family’s health. After the patient is educated on the risks and concerns that relate to their family, the counselor assists in helping make decisions about a baby’s health/care and decisions about a pregnancy.
This counseling program is offered before or during pregnancy as an educational tool to provide necessary knowledge to expecting mothers for the baby’s risk of genetic conditions. The most important benefit of genetic counseling is that it acts as an early warning system. It informs you of all risks and health concerns that come along with your decision to have a child if you or your spouse carry a gene for any health conditions. Genetic counseling is not only available for children, but also for individuals to see if they are predisposed to conditions such as certain cancers. Another positive outcome from testing is that it may be able to put your mind at ease. If you are highly concerned and worried that you might develop a disease later in life, you are able to test for the genes to determine whether you should be worried about it or not.
A negative aspect of genetic counseling is that it can increase your stress levels when things are not for certain. If you receive results stating that you are at a higher risk of developing a medical condition, you may begin to get concerned. However, just because a patient is at a higher risk of developing something, does not mean that they will for sure develop the condition at any time in their life. Personally, I would definitely consider genetic counseling if I was considering having a child with someone who is exposed to a genetic medical condition. I would appreciate the insight as to what things might be like in the future with my child. It would give me, along with any other patient, a jump start to obtain any necessary knowledge needed to provide the proper care and/or treatment for my child.