What is Genetics? The study of heredity and how traits are passed on through generations. What is Genetic Counseling? Genetic counseling involves working with an individual or family who may be at risk for an inherited condition or birth defect. It relies on communication skills to help individuals and families to understand how inheritance works and what causes genetic conditions. Counseling may be provided by specially trained counselors, physicians or nurses.
There are four basic steps in providing genetic counseling services: 1. Diagnosis - This requires taking an accurate and detailed family and medical history and possibly conducting a physical examination and laboratory testing. 2. Information Counseling - Communicating information and education to the patient and family is an important step in the process. 3. Supportive Counseling - Providing emotional and psychological support for families, as well as referral to support groups, and concentrating on specific conditions are important roles for the genetic counselor. 4. Follow-Up - The counseling session and the long-term medical recommendations should be summarized in a follow-up letter to the patient. • What Should You Ask a Genetic Counselor? • What causes this condition? • What are the features of this condition? • What are the long-term effects of this condition? • What is the life expectancy of someone with this condition? • How is this condition treated? • Is there a cure for this condition? • What other health care professionals should I see? • What special care does a person with this condition require? • Are there tests available to see if a person is affected with, or is at risk for this condition? • Will this condition improve or worsen over time? • How accurate are the tests for this condition? • Is this condition passed from one generation to the next? • Can a person not have this condition but still pass it on to his/her children? • Can a person contract this condition from being around others who have it? • Could my children or siblings have this condition? • How will this diagnosis affect my health or life insurance? • Where can I go for a second opinion? • What are the medical costs likely to be? • Is there financial assistance available for individuals with this condition? • Are there organizations or support groups where I can talk to other people with this condition? • When would it be appropriate to see you again?
For more information contact:
Henry/Stark County Health Department
Illinois Department of Public Health 535 W. Jefferson St. Springfield, IL 62761 Phone: (217) 524-4900
Henry County Health Department 110 N. Burr Blvd. Kewanee, IL 61443 309-852-0197 Copyright 2007 All rights reserved