Groups who should consider genetic carrier screening
At our Las Vegas fertility clinic, we see many hopeful parents who are worried about the possibility of having a child born with a genetic illness. Thanks to advances in genetic testing, the technology now exists to help families break the chain of genetic disorders passed down through generations. If you’re hoping to have a baby, carrier screening can help you fully understand your risk.
To get tested, all you need to do is provide a blood sample in our office. Test results are ready in about two weeks, and a genetic counselor will help you understand the findings.
Do you need genetic carrier screening?
Each human being has two copies of each gene. One comes from the person’s mother, and the other from the father. Carrier screening through our Las Vegas fertility clinic can help identify people who are carriers of a genetic disorder, such as cystic fibrosis or spinal muscular atrophy. Carriers have a mutation in just one of the genes received from one parent, but the copy of that same gene from the other parent is normal.
Some carriers never realize that they are affected until they have genetic carrier screening. Most carriers don’t show symptoms of the genetic disease they carry, although some may be aware that others in the family do. The danger lies in the fact that carriers can unknowingly pass the genetic defect on to their own children, who may either become carriers or be affected by the disorder.
While anyone planning a pregnancy can gain peace of mind with carrier screening, there are certain groups of higher-risk people for whom the information can be extremely valuable.
- People with a known family history of a genetic disorder
- People who don’t know their family history of disease, but want to reduce the risk of having a child with a lifelong disability
- Certain ethnic groups that have a higher risk for certain genetic conditions, including people of Ashkenazi Jewish, French Canadian or Cajun descent
If your carrier screening confirms your carrier status, it’s important to have your partner tested as well.
Fertility treatment for carriers
If you and your partner are found to both be carriers of the same genetic condition, your children will each have a 25% chance of inheriting the disorder. In such cases, we typically recommend IVF with preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD.
PGD is an advanced embryo screening technique that identifies embryos affected by a specific genetic abnormality, allowing you to transfer only unaffected embryos. By taking this extra step while building your family, you can ensure that your child or children will be free of the genetic disease that you and your partner carry.
To learn whether genetic carrier screening is right for you, contact us to schedule a consultation at our Las Vegas fertility clinic.