Family Planning? Here’s How to Assess the Risk of Passing Down a Genetic Disorder

Dana Brown
November 14, 2022

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Family Planning? Here’s How to Assess the Risk of Passing Down a Genetic Disorder

If you're planning on extending your family, but you know you have a history of genetic conditions that could potentially affect the outcome of your baby's health, you should consider genetic counseling and testing to help guide you on the best way forward. The following guide, presented by the True Health Center for Functional Medicine, can help you get started.

Types of genetic conditions that can be passed down  

If you are concerned about your medical history and you know that you have certain conditions that run in the family, you can choose to be screened for any potential issues before you become pregnant. Some conditions that are tested for when you are screened include cystic fibrosis diagnosis and spinal muscular atrophy (Type1).

How to know when to get tested by a genetic counselor

You may need to seek the advice of a genetic counselor if you:

  • Already have a child with a genetic condition.
  • You know that either you or your partner carries a defective gene that could lead to any one of the conditions above.
  • There is a high possibility of a genetic disorder that is common in you or your partner because of your ethnicity.

How to reduce the likelihood of passing down a genetic disorder to your future child

While we don't have control over whether a genetically inherited condition is present or not, you can prepare yourself for the likelihood of one of these conditions being present in a future child by going to your primary physician for necessary testing before conceiving. There is something to be said for leading a healthier lifestyle, especially when pregnant or when planning to get pregnant, so your baby has a better chance overall. Things you can do now that can help you have a healthier pregnancy overall include:

  • Eat a well-balanced diet of lean protein, vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain foods. Additionally, take prenatal supplements and vitamins to help support your diet.
  • Keep up with your exercise routine. Moderately intensive exercise is good for pregnant women, as it can help to alleviate stress and fatigue associated with pregnancy.
  • Make sure you go for prenatal care. Going for an early routine checkup can help point out any potential problems that could occur in early pregnancy and give you the ongoing advice you need to maintain a healthy pregnancy going forward.

Worried about the implications financially?

If you're worried about the financial implications of a challenging pregnancy, resources that can help you financially and emotionally through these difficult times include the Circle of Health International, March of Dimes, and Every Mother Counts.  

If you are planning to extend your family, and you're unsure of the way forward, just know that taking those positive steps to achieve a healthier lifestyle (small as they may be) will end up benefiting you and your future babies in the end.

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