Debunking preconception testing misconceptions
Genetic testing has come a long way since prenatal amniocentesis. You don’t have to be pregnant to test for genetic disease, or protect your baby. At Texas Fertility Center, we see couples for preconception testing even when they don’t expect to have trouble getting pregnant. However, there are still preconception testing misconceptions.
Also called preconception carrier screening, this blood or saliva test can provide potentially life-saving information for potential parents. September is Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month, and the ideal time for Texas Fertility Center to clear up a few misconceptions about preconception testing.
True or False? Preconception testing is only for people with a known family history of genetic disease. False.
Many people are symptomless carriers of a genetic disease. For example, more than 10 million Americans have a defective gene for cystic fibrosis, but most do not know it. When two people with an inheritable genetic defect conceive a child, there is a 1 in 4 chance that the baby will have the disease which is often life-threatening or fatal. Preconception testing confirms your carrier status for the most devastating genetic diseases.
True or False? Preconception testing is only for people from at-risk ethic backgrounds. False.
It’s true that ethnicities and certain genetic diseases are linked. For example, African Americans are susceptible to sickle cell, and Ashkenazi Jewish women may carry the gene for Tay-Sachs, a fatal disease that affects the brain’s nerve cells. However, some genetic diseases such as CF, fragile X syndrome, muscular dystrophy and Thalassemia strike across ethic backgrounds.
True or False? Learning that I am a genetic disease carrier will leave me with only one option—remain childless. False.
On the heels of preconception testing, preimplantation genetic diagnosis PGD gives your fertility specialist and embryologist a tool to act on information about carrier status testing. With PGD, we can transfer healthy, unaffected embryos during a cycle of IVF.
Texas Fertility Center and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommend preconception testing. Contact us — or your ObGyn physician — to learn more about carrier status, and actions you can take if results turn up a genetic marker for genetic disease.