Find a Doctor
Browse UPMC doctors and medical professionals to find the care that's right for you. Customize your search by specialty, zip code, last name, and more.
Visit the UPMC Find a Doctor website.
Genetic counseling provides information about genetic diseases, birth defects, and inherited disorders. A genetic counselor can explain how these disorders can be passed from parent to child. For people who have a family history of a certain disorder, genetic counselors can help explain their risk for having a baby with the same condition. They also can tell how this condition may affect a child.
Some genetic diseases or birth defects can be found before the baby is born. Others are not diagnosed until after birth or until the child grows older.
Medical geneticists (je-NET-uh-sists) and genetic counselors are trained to help families understand genetic disorders. Medical geneticists usually are doctors. They perform physical exams when needed and also help educate patients about genetic disorders.
Genetic counselors give information about risk factors and explain genetic tests that are available. Individuals or couples can use this information as they make decisions about becoming parents.
For people who are concerned about their family history, genetic counselors can:
If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you could benefit from genetic counseling if:
If you have a family history of:
Others who can benefit from genetic counseling include those who:
At the appointment, a genetic counselor asks the individual or couple many questions about their family and medical histories. The counselor also explains tests (including prenatal or blood tests) that can help find any problems. The counselor explains how a certain condition occurs. He or she also talks about the risk of this condition being passed on to any children. A physical exam by a medical geneticist also may be part of the appointment. The geneticist may suggest certain tests to help with diagnosis.
The UPMC Center for Medical Genetics is a regional leader in genetics education and research. If you have any questions about genetic counseling, please call the center at 412-641-4168 or 1-800-454-8155.
Revised September 2011