MUSC Women's Care

musc women's care

Genetic Counseling and Prenatal Genetic Testing

The Prenatal Wellness Center employs a multidisciplinary team to provide consultation and management for pregnancies at risk for or with abnormalities.  One of the team members is the genetic counselor who plays many roles in a patient’s care from educator to advocate to support person.  The genetic counselor has special training in human genetics and counseling in a role that has become increasingly important as genetic advancements and testing have become more complex.

Appointment Information


Our Services

Genetic counseling is a communication process to help the individual or family comprehend the medical facts and risks, understand the options, and choose the course of action most appropriate to them in view of their family goals.  Common indications for a visit with a genetic counselor include:

  • Maternal age greater than 35 at delivery
  • Abnormal screening test results
  • A family history of a genetic disorder or birth defect
  • Multiple miscarriages
  • Exposure during pregnancy to medications or drugs
  • Known fetal abnormality
  • Racial or ethnic backgrounds with known increased incidence of certain genetic diseases

Couples who visit a genetic counselor may already have established a pregnancy or may be planning a pregnancy for the future.

At the Prenatal Wellness Center perinatologists, who are specialists in fetal testing, perform diagnostic testing for specific disorders by:

  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) – vaginal procedure to obtain placental cells for testing-performed at 10-12 weeks gestation-associated with 1% risk for miscarriage
  • Traditional amniocentesis – a needle is inserted through the maternal abdomen to obtain amniotic fluid and cells for testing-performed at 15 weeks gestation and throughout pregnancy-associated with 0.25-0.5% risk for miscarriage.
  • Fetal screening tests are also available.

Commonly used screening tests to find pregnancies at increased risk for specific disorders are:

  • Targeted ultrasound – performed by specially-trained perinatal ultrasonographers to examine the fetal anatomy
  • Maternal serum screen – maternal blood test to screen for open neural tube defects and specific chromosomal abnormalities

The Prenatal Wellness Center has several genetic counselors, and genetic testing is available daily during the business week.  Appointments are generally made by referral of the obstetric healthcare provider so that insurance requirements are met.  However, self-referrals for appointments are also welcome.

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