Planning for Pregnancy When You Have a Genetic Disorder
(Exercising Your Mind) By Cameron Ward
Does your family health history include a genetic disorder, birth defect, development disability, or something similar? As you’re likely aware, any child you have may inherit that specific condition. It could affect their well-being and quality of life growing up. Also, it may come with financial and medical care-related burdens for your family. That’s why, before you get pregnant, it’s a good idea to consider what may be in store for the future and plan things out carefully.
In this mini-guide, Wealth Attraction Research walks you through the important considerations to make before pregnancy when you have a genetic disorder running in your family.
Investigate Your Family’s Health History
Start by getting a firm grasp on your family’s health history. According to the AMA, this is a record that covers your first, second, and third-degree relatives. If they’re deceased, their age at the time of death is recorded. Ethnicity is included because some genetic diseases are more common among some groups. Lastly, the presence of genetic disorders, hereditary diseases, and similar is noted. If multiple relatives have the same condition, you and your children are likely to have it too.
Genetic Conditions that can be Passed Down
There are four main categories of inherited genetic disorders: single gene inheritance, multifactorial inheritance, chromosome abnormalities, and mitochondrial inheritance. Some specific examples include sickle cell disease, heart disease, diabetes, Turner syndrome, and hereditary optic atrophy.
What are the Chances I’ll Pass on a Genetic Disorder?
Your family’s health history can help a physician pinpoint a pattern of a gene moving from parent to child, says Genes in Life. Often, the chances are 50 percent or 1 in 2, applicable to every child you may have. The exact chances depend on the specific condition and your unique family history. You should consult with a medical professional for a diagnosis.
Do I Need a Genetic Counselor?
Your physician can help you to make this decision. They may refer you to a genetic counselor if they see the need, after running some initial tests. Some reasons to refer you to a genetic counselor are; you’ve had a previous miscarriage; your prenatal test results are abnormal; there are inherited diseases in your family’ and you’re over 35 when you’re having a child.
Plan for Your Pregnancy
Again, your doctor can help you plan for your pregnancy. Share your family health history with your doctor. Also, tell them if you’ve had miscarriages, premature births, or related medical events. Your doctor will run some tests and may recommend a treatment plan, if applicable. Some examples of recommendations are changes to your environment, lifestyle, medications and vitamin supplements, and dietary recommendations to reduce your risk.
You should also follow the general guidelines for pregnancy, which include avoiding certain foods, not starting new exercise routines, abstaining from alcohol, and limiting your caffeine intake.
Medical and Financial Concerns
There are always several considerations you need to make when having a baby: housing, clothing, food, education, transport, and more. If your child is at risk of developing a genetic disorder, you also have to plan for that possibility, both medically and financially. You may need to put aside money or research grants and insurance for their care or medical needs. You may also need to take responsibility for managing and mitigating any medical conditions that your child may develop.
You should also consider what sort of housing you will need if your child inherits your genetic disorder. Certain conditions require a more accessible home, or the space to have in-home care. While you may not know what your child will need until they are born, it is best to stay abreast of mortgage news so you know what your housing options are. Keep tabs on refinance rates in case you need to lower your monthly payments or even cash out some of your equity for accessibility upgrades. And be aware of the housing market overall in case you decide to sell and move into a home with more space or features.
Choosing to be Childless? Process Your Emotions
After talking to your doctor, you may decide to forego having children altogether. In such cases, you may experience sadness, grief, and even depression. It’s a good idea to access mental health care, so you can maintain your well-being. You can get counseling online – it’s convenient, secure, and private. It also comes with less of a commitment than in-person therapy. When you choose an online therapist, you have a wide variety of licensed professionals to pick from. It saves travel time and you pay less for mental health care. Therapists also often offer a complimentary consultation to help you find the right fit.
There is no way to concretely predict genetic outcomes, but with good pregnancy planning, you should have a clearer picture of what you can expect. Learning some of the possibilities in advance may help you to better plan out your life with your child moving forward, and have a smoother ride with your pregnancy in general.
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