In every family, certain traits are shared and passed from one generation to the next. We get two copies of every gene - one from our mother and one from our father. Most obvious are physical traits, such as eye or hair color that parents and children share. Less obvious are inherited genetic traits that control the tendency to develop specific diseases or conditions. That's why if one of your parents has a damaged gene, it increases the risk that you may, too. Genetic testing is the study of your DNA to discover if you're predisposed to developing one of these diseases of conditions.
Why are the results important?
The test can tell you if you carry a mutated gene and if you're at a higher risk for developing certain types of conditions or diseases. The results may also be important for your children, siblings, parents and other close relatives. It can also help you learn what testing, monitoring, prevention strategies or research trials may be right for your situation. The earlier you know your risk, the faster you can take action to make a difference in your future health. Just as important, these tests can also relieve stress and worry if they reveal you aren't at an increased risk.
Who should see a genetic counselor?
Anyone who may have a genetic condition, has a family history of an inherited disease, or has other risk factors for a genetic condition or birth defect may benefit from seeing a genetic counselor. If your family history indicates the possibility of an inherited disease, your doctor may give you a referral. Some pregnant women may also be referred to genetic counselors to receive counseling about the risks of birth defects or for help in interpreting test results.
How can a genetic counselor help?
The genetic counselor will talk with you about your family health history. You'll receive information on the advantages, disadvantages and limitations of genetic testing to help you make decisions about whether testing is right for you. The genetic counselor will interpret your tests, help you understand your risks and discuss the results with you.
Will my health insurance pay for the genetic test?
Many health insurance plans pay for genetic testing. However, some health insurance plans require pre-authorization for testing. Our genetic counselor can help you determine your coverage.
Can my health insurance company refuse coverage based on the results?
No. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 and state legislation protects patient privacy and prohibits health insurance discrimination based on genetic information.