Blog Courtesy of Daisy Jones
If you carry a gene for a genetic disorder that increases your risk of passing a disease, birth defect, or developmental condition onto your unborn child, you may have some concerns about having a baby until you’ve explored all your different options. For instance, you may wish to meet with a genetic counselor and undergo genetic testing before or during pregnancy — especially if inherited diseases run in your family or you belong to an ethnic group where genetic risks are more prevalent.
The following advice presented by Teton Women’s Health Center will help you to plan for pregnancy if inherited conditions run in your family, so read on to learn more about genetic counseling, testing, and the types of disorders that can be passed down from parent to child.
Gather Family History InformationGathering information about your family health history is one of the first steps you should take if you’re thinking of having a baby, as a family history of genetic diseases, birth defects, or developmental disabilities could increase your risk of passing these conditions onto your child. MedicineNet notes that some examples of genetic conditions that can be passed down from parent to child include:
- Birth defects such as cleft lip, heart defects, and hearing loss.
- Genetic disorders and syndromes such as Marfan syndrome, Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS), Down syndrome, Williams syndrome, Fragile X, Smith-Magenis, Angelman, Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome (SLOS), Lesch-Nyhan, Cornelia de Lange, Rhett syndrome, Cri-du-chat syndrome, Tay-Sachs, and Sotos syndrome.
- Other health conditions such as sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis (CD), spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), thalassemias, and hemoglobinopathies.
After gathering your family health history, share this information with your doctor and follow his or her recommendations as closely as possible. Recommendations may include genetic counseling, genetic testing, dietary and lifestyle changes, and pre-conception supplementation.
Meet With a Genetic CounselorIf your medical doctor refers you to a genetic counselor, this type of professional can help you to understand your genetic risks — including your chances of passing an inherited condition onto your baby. A genetic counselor can also help you to determine whether genetic testing is right for you.
Parents magazine explains that genetic testing can be used to screen for diseases and conditions such as cystic fibrosis, Fragile X syndrome, blood disorders, Tay-Sachs, and spinal muscular atrophy. Health insurance sometimes covers the cost of genetic testing when your doctor refers you, so be sure to check with your carrier.
Plan for BabyOnce you’ve gathered your family history information and completed genetic counseling and/or genetic testing, you may be ready to start planning for your baby. As mentioned above, follow your doctor’s recommendations to protect yourself and your unborn baby — and start preparing your family’s finances. Additionally, you may also want to discuss leave benefits associated with the Family and Medical Leave Act.
As part of your pre-pregnancy financial planning, you might also choose to move to a larger home for your growing family — and maybe even save for a down payment on a house. Saving for a down payment takes time and budgeting, however, so it’s important to make changes to your spending, pick up extra work when possible, and check your credit early on in the process so you’ll have plenty of time to improve your credit score before applying for a mortgage.
If you plan on applying for a home loan in the near future, be sure to shop around for mortgages and compare loan types and rates. PennyMac USA is one type of mortgage lender to consider, as conventional, VA, and FHA loans are available to those who qualify. Other mortgage lenders include Quicken Loans, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, and Guild Mortgage. Local options include Bank of Idaho, Bank of Commerce, Idaho Central Credit Union and Zions Bank, among others. You may also wish to look into state-specific programs for first-time homebuyers, depending on where you live.
You’ll be spending a lot more time at home with the new addition to the family, so you may want to consider making a career transition so that you’re able to work from home. This may even involve starting a home-based business. If so, this will require setting up a home office and getting what you need on the technology front, such as whatever hardware and software you may need. There are a lot of free tools available that can help you keep costs down. For example, you’ll want to come up with a catchy logo, and it’s possible to design one for free with an online business logo creator. This saves you money by not having to hire a graphic design pro.
The Bottom LineHaving a baby is a huge decision, and it’s one that takes careful planning and consideration — especially if genetic conditions such as Marfan syndrome, Fragile X, or cystic fibrosis run in your family. By considering your family medical history, meeting with a genetic counselor, and making a few healthy changes before getting pregnant, you’ll reduce your risk of passing a genetic disorder or disease onto your baby — and ensure your little one will live a happy, healthy life.
Services at Teton Women’s Health Center range from clinic visits and office procedures to hospital management of our patients with antepartum care, deliveries, surgeries and acute gynecological care at both Mountain View Hospital and Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center. Contact us today for more info! 208-523-2060