Skip To Content

Genetic Counseling

Sanford Fetal Care Center genetic counselors consult with patients about the risks and concerns associated with conditions caused by genetic factors or chromosomal abnormalities. Genetic counselors are available to all Sanford patients.


How do I know if my baby has a genetic disorder?

Your fetal care specialist will conduct genetic tests if the signs or symptoms in your unborn baby indicate a potential genetic cause. Many patients experiencing high-risk pregnancies do not have genetic factors involved. If a genetic cause is determined, a genetic counselor will meet with you to provide education and review options for you and your baby.

What happens when you meet with a genetic counselor?

The genetic counselor will ask specific questions regarding you and your family's medical history and discuss how genetic conditions may affect your unborn baby or future pregnancies. A genetic counseling session often includes:

  • Discussion of the reason for referral
  • Review of family history and personal medical background
  • Explanation of any risk factors identified
  • Explanation of possible diagnosis
  • Discussion of any available tests including the risks, benefits and limitations of each test
  • Aid in decision making about available tests, treatment options or management options
  • Distribution of resources and educational material as needed
  • Referral to support groups or other medical specialists when necessary

Who should consider genetic counseling?

Patients in the following situations may find genetic counseling beneficial:

  • Women whose prenatal tests indicate an increased risk for birth defects
  • Individuals with an inherited disorder, birth defect or who have a hereditary disorder in their family
  • Women who are pregnant, or planning to be pregnant, after the age of 35
  • Couples with multiple miscarriages
  • Couples who have a child with a chromosome disorder, inherited disorder or birth defect
  • People concerned that their jobs, lifestyles or medical history may pose a risk to outcome of pregnancy (i.e. exposure to radiation, medications, illegal drugs, chemicals, or infections)
  • Couples experiencing infertility, many causes of infertility have a genetic or chromosomal component
  • Couples who would like testing or more information about diseases that occur frequently in their ethnic group; such as Tay-Sachs, sickle cell, thalassemia, or cystic fibrosis
  • Couples whose infant has a genetic disease diagnosed by routine newborn screening

Do I have to be a fetal care patient to see a genetic counselor?

No. While our genetic counselors work very closely with our fetal care team, they see all patients who have concerns about genetic health risks.