Prenatal Genetic Medicine
Genetic medicine is a standard part of your prenatal care at Women’s Healthcare of Illinois, the only OB/GYN practice in the area to provide this level of care to their patients.
Genetic medicine consists of counseling and testing to screen for genetic conditions in your fetus or those that can be passed down to your child from you or your partner/donor. Genetic counseling and testing are considered standards of care for prenatal patients by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Because these tests are so complex and the information provided through them changes so rapidly, we partner with a clinical genetics practice, Insight Medical Genetics, that specializes in the interpretation and translation of genetic information delivered by Genetic Counselors.
The Genetic Counselors from Insight, are an important part of your prenatal healthcare team. As trained healthcare professionals they will help you to understand the benefits, risks and limitations of genetic testing during pregnancy. They also provide your physician at Women’s Healthcare of Illinois with important information through your test results that can have an impact on your pregnancy management and delivery.
Providing important information well beyond the sex of your fetus, genetic tests can:
- Offer you a degree of reassurance regarding the health of your baby and;
- Prepare you and your OB for special attention you may need during your pregnancy or delivery
Because 80% of babies born with a genetic condition are born to families where there was no known indication of that condition – which is why we consider genetics to be such an important part of your prenatal care.
At your 12 week visit you will:
- Meet with the genetic counselor in our office via a telemedicine connection
- Have your blood drawn for one of the genetic screening tests available
- Have a Nuchal Translucency Ultrasound
Prenatal Genetic Medicine Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I meet with a Genetic Counselor?
Genetic tests are complex and tests change rapidly with new genes being added frequently. Genetic counselors are part of your healthcare team and take as much time as you need to help you understand why genetics is part of your prenatal care. Genetic Counselors are trained to explain your genetic risks, determine which tests are most appropriate for you and anticipate what results might mean for you and your family. They can also help you to cope with emotions that may be associated with your test results.
What are the recommended tests for pregnancy?
Genetic tests during pregnancy are classified into two types of testing, screening for chromosome abnormalities in your fetus and carrier screening which looks for genetic mutations in your genes (and those of your partner) which could be passed down to your unborn child.
What are the screening options for Chromosome abnormalities?
There are two options for genetic screening for chromosome abnormalities:
First Trimester Screening:
This screen provides information about the chance that your pregnancy has one of three chromosome abnormalities: Down syndrome (trisomy 21), trisomy 18, and trisomy 13. The first trimester screen determines the risk to your pregnancy for these three birth defects by using information from a blood test and an ultrasound performed at 12-13 weeks of pregnancy along with your age at the time the baby is due. This screen is considered “standard of care” for women who will be under 35 years of age at the time their baby is due.
Cell-free DNA Screening (CfDNA):
Often referred to as Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening (NIPS) this screen provides information about the chance that your pregnancy has one of multiple chromosome abnormalities, including Down syndrome (trisomy 21), trisomy 18, trisomy 13, sex chromosome abnormalities and a few other rare chromosome abnormalities. CfDNA screening determines the risk to your pregnancy for these birth defects using a blood sample from you drawn after 10 weeks of pregnancy. This screen is considered standard of care” for women who will be 35 or older at the time their baby is due, but is available to all pregnant women.
Are there also options for Carrier Screening?
Yes, the two options available are the Fundamental Screening Panel and Expanded Carrier Screening Panel.
Fundamental Carrier Screening
This screen provides information regarding the chance that you and/or your partner are a carrier of any of three common genetic disorders (cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy, and fragile X syndrome). If you or your partner are certain ethnicities, carrier screening for blood disorders like sickle cell anemia and thalassemia may also be included.
Expanded Carrier Screening
This screen provides information regarding the chance that you and/or your partner are a carrier of one or more disorders associated with 165 genes, including all of the disorders on the fundamental carrier screen.
Is Genetic Counseling and Testing covered by my insurance?
Genetic counseling is considered a standard specialist consult, similar to if we referred you for physical therapy, and is generally covered by insurance.
Genetic testing is often covered at some level by most insurance companies. Insight can help you to determine if genetics is part of your insurance plan and will submit an insurance claim on your behalf for these services. They also have financial assistance program to help patients that are uninsured or underinsured to receive genetic medicine services. Please visit their website and contact their billing department directly for all inquiries about insurance and billing related to these services, 312-374-6400.