A genetic counselor is a healthcare professional who specializes in the genetic and inherited influences of human disease. Their job is to help you understand how different biological and environmental factors may affect your health and/or the health of your family members, including your offspring. You can meet with a prenatal or reproductive genetic counselor before or during a pregnancy (or both)!
Why should I see a genetic counselor?
There are many reasons why hopeful and expecting parents may want to schedule a visit with a prenatal genetic counselor. Here are a few:
- You or your partner has a family history of inherited medical conditions.
- You’ve received high risk or other abnormal results from prenatal screening tests.
- You have a history of multiple miscarriages, stillbirths, or infertility.
- If your egg was used for the pregnancy, and you’ll be 35 or older at delivery; or, if your sperm was used for the pregnancy, and you’re 40 or older.
- You want to know more about your offsprings’ risk for inherited diseases or other birth differences.
What happens in a genetic counseling appointment?
During your consultation, your genetic counselor may help you decide whether any genetic screening or testing may be useful for your situation, and if so, which tests you’d like to undergo both prior to and during your pregnancy. Screening tests before pregnancy — such as carrier screening — can help you understand your chances of passing an inherited condition to your baby. Screening tests performed during pregnancy — such as non-invasive prenatal screening (NIPS) — can reveal your baby’s risk for different sporadic conditions that generally do not run in families, such as chromosome variations.
Your genetic counselor will work with you and your prenatal care provider to help you understand more about your baby’s health. They’ll be able to address all of your questions surrounding any genetic screening or testing results, and walk you through all of the possible next steps. If needed, they can also refer you to medical specialists, educational resources, and support groups that focus on any conditions that may affect you or your baby.
Meet Katie Sagaser, MS, LCGC – our Director of Genetic Counseling
If you need help understanding your JunoDx™ Non-Invasive Prenatal Screening results, Katie and her team will be there to help!
Katie Sagaser is a licensed and American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) board-certified genetic counselor (CGC) who specializes in reproductive genetics. She’s also a passionate and outspoken advocate for reproductive justice, patient autonomy, and equitable access to reproductive health services.
Katie completed a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Biopsychology at Messiah University, then went on to complete a Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Genetic Counseling at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center/UT Health Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences & McGovern Medical School.
Before joining the team at JunoDx™, Katie spent over six years as a prenatal genetic counselor in the Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to seeing patients in the Prenatal Diagnosis & Treatment Center and the Johns Hopkins Center for Fetal Therapy, Katie was an Assistant Professor of Gynecology & Obstetrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where she was highly involved in clinical research and taught a wide variety of medical trainees.
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