Taking the Scary Part Out of Genetic Counseling

Michele Zipp
6
genetic counseling

Here we are -- the old folks

There are a lot of strong opinions on what's the best age to have a baby. I think it's fine if another person has a cut off age for themselves, but I don't feel other women should enforce a "rule" on others.

I'm going to be an old mom...according to some stat probably created before women had the right to vote. I'm 36 and will be 37 when my twins are born. Because of this, my husband and I went through genetic counseling, which was scary to think about. But when we went, our fears subsided.

Our genetic counselor went through my blood test results to see if I was a carrier of chromosome abnormalities. I was not.

Next we did family trees for both my husband and I -- revealing races, history of illness, cause of deaths. There were no major red flags.

Then we talked about the statistics. The counselor gave us the same news I read in the book Twins! Pregnancy Birth and the First Year of Life.

A 20-year-old has a one in two thousand chance that her pregnancy would be affected by a a chromosome abnormality.

At 35 the incidence is one is 200. And it goes up from there. But stay with me...what does that really mean?

When looking at the 35-year-old's stats, it means that in 100 women, she has a one-half percent chance of her baby having a chromosome abnormality. The odds are 99.5 percent in her favor that she will have a healthy baby.

Now that's a good stat. Because of my twins, my stat is slightly raised -- she said we had a 99 percent chance of having healthy babies.

When people argue the fact that a woman who is over 35 shouldn't have a baby because of the risk of a chromosome abnormality, this is the stat I will think about. And I hope others do, too. Of course, anything can happen to anyone and any baby, no matter age of the mother or what some statistic says.

Have you gone through genetic counseling?

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