Raising a child that suffers from an inheritable disorder (either a genetic or chromosomal disorder) can exert a severe emotional and financial toll on any couple, so some parents will appreciate knowing in advance the risk of their child inheriting such a disorder. This is why genetic screening is offered by fertility centres – it allows parents wishing to conceive a child to be aware of the risks and to prepare themselves to do what is best for themselves and their child.
What kinds of genetic screening are there?
While technological developments have allowed these screening tests to achieve highly accurate results, accuracy is still not 100%. Hence, your fertility specialist may recommend screening at several stages of the IVF (in vitro fertilisation) and pregnancy process.
- Pre-conception genetic screening. This is to check whether both parents are carrying genes that can put any child they conceive at risk of developing an inheritable disorder.
- Pre-implantation genetic screening. A sample of cells is carefully extracted from the embryo to determine whether there is any genetic abnormality present.
- Prenatal genetic screening. This is to test whether the baby one is carrying has inheritable disorders.
Do not worry if you are not well-versed in genetic matters. Many fertility clinics have a genetic counsellor that can advise you on the types of screening best suited for your needs. Once screening results are in, he or she will help you understand the results, as well as offer advice and information on how you can best manage any unexpected outcomes of the screening.
National Infertility Association (Canada). Available at www.resolve.org