Can Genetics Put A Damper On Pregnancy?
Before starting a family, hopeful parents often wonder about things like whom the baby will resemble. Will the baby have the mom’s athletic genes or the dad’s knack for creativity? Thinking about these traits can be a good thing, but children can inherit other traits that may be concerning. Studies show that 1 in every 33 babies have a birth disorder. Therefore, understanding one’s family health history before trying to conceive should be top of mind. A simple screen can give a peep into genetic issues, mitigate risk, or even give expecting parents insight into prenatal care.
Genetic and health issues could lay dormant
Genetic testing carries further importance as parents can be carriers of unknown genetic conditions. While both parents might be seemingly healthy, this does not negate the baby from inheriting genetic diseases. One or both parents can have a copy of a gene that is passed onto the child. Parents that have these underlying genetic diseases are called carriers. A perfect example is sickle cell anemia, which can lay dormant in parents and passed on to the child. In some cases, other close family members could have the condition. Understanding what lies dormant can make the pregnancy process smoother.
Reasons to get tested
Couples looking to get pregnant should speak to a genetic specialist, even if there is no evidence of genetic issues. If possible and accessible, always consider carrier screening for any planned pregnancy. Furthermore, particular circumstances warrant genetic testing. For instance, if the couple has suffered from repeated miscarriages, genetic testing can reveal an underlying cause. If couples have a child with a congenital disability, this can also increase the likelihood of birth issues in another baby.
What should you do?
If family health history is a concern, first, consult an endocrinologist. A consultation can help clear up any anxiety and can map out a plan of action. Before heading to the doctor, information is critical. Both hopeful parents should check the family tree, especially the more immediate branches, for conditions and causes of death. If the check reveals genetic disorders, chronic disease, or even mental illness, both sides should screen for genetic complications. Screening involves blood samples sent to labs for genetic testing. When the results return, follow the recommendations of the doctor.
Steps for a safe pregnancy
The family health history may reveal underlying conditions that are preventing pregnancy. As a result, some doctors recommend treatments such as in vitro fertilization. IVF is primarily for patients who are subfertile or infertile. IVF takes egg and sperm samples and creates embryos in a lab before implanting in the uterus. Fertility clinics can screen eggs, sperm, and embryos before insertion, reducing the chances of defects. Even with the risk of congenital disabilities, there are still options for having a happy, healthy baby. These include donor eggs or donor sperm.
Talk about your family history
Couples trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant, the issue may be no further than a patient’s family tree. For others who wish to get pregnant with no known problem, examining the family’s health history can be crucial. The best way to do this is with a doctor’s help. Genetic specialists can assess many medical conditions and give much-needed insight.