|

Worrying About Birth Defects

All pregnant women worry about bearing a child with a birth defect, but some women have more reason to worry than others. If you are over age 35, have a history of bearing a child or children with a birth defect, or have a family medical history that puts your child at risk for inheriting a genetic disorder, your doctor will suggest that you consider genetic counseling and prenatal testing this month to determine the health of your baby.

Genetic counseling is a wonderful support program for couples who fall into a high-risk category for birth defects. A genetic counselor has advanced training in genetics, which is the study of how traits are passed on from parent to child. With this training, the counselor can explain the likelihood of a baby having a problem and the various prenatal tests available.

Before you meet with a counselor, make some phone calls to your parents or other relatives (and get your partner to do the same with his family!). Gather as much information as you can about family medical history. How did your grandparents die? Why did your cousin go to a special school? Has anyone in the family had a child with a birth defect or mental retardation? Ask specifically about inherited disorders. These include Tay Sachs disease (which affects French Canadians and Middle European Ashkenazi Jews), sickle cell anemia (which affects African Americans and some Mediterranean Caucasians), thalassemia (which affects primarily Southeast Asians), and cystic fibrosis.

The genetic counselor will tell you all about amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, which can detect defects in the womb. She will also explain the outlook for a child born with birth defects as well as the treatments that might be necessary, both immediately after birth and throughout the child's life.

A genetic counselor will not tell you what to do. She will tell you your options. She will give you the facts. She will answer your questions. But the final decision is up to you. If you should choose prenatal testing and find out that your child has a birth defect, you will have all the information you need to help you decide what to do next. Either you will need to prepare for a child with disabilities or make arrangements to end the pregnancy.

If you meet with a genetic counselor, bring your partner with you. You both need to hear information that can be easily mixed up in the retelling, and you both need each other for support.

|

excerpted from:

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth © 2004 by Michele Isaac Gliksman, M.D. and Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's website or call 1-800-253-6476.


Pregnancy Day by Day

Tell us your due date to receive our daily newsletter and find out what is happening in this day of your pregnancy!

Already a member? Log-in here

Name of the Day

stay connected

highlights

Top 10 Holiday Gifts for Teachers
Offer a genuine "thank you" to your child's teacher halfway through the school year. Give one of these extra-nice holiday gifts for teachers.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Top Family Movies in Theaters for the Holidays
Taking the kids to the movies is a special family treat for the holidays! Don't miss 2014's best family films in theaters from Thanksgiving through Christmas.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

© 2000-2014 Pearson Education, Inc. All Rights Reserved.