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Specialist Advice — 3 minutes

What is genetic counselling?

Dr Nicolas Tétreault, PhD, CSPQ, FCACB
Dr Nicolas Tétreault, PhD, CSPQ, FCACB
Clinical Biochemist - Scientific Director

The genetic counsellor’s mission is to give you information that will help you understand how genetic diseases might affect you. A genetic counsellor can review your family history to give you a risk assessment and help determine whether genetic testing is appropriate for you or a family member.

Genetic counselling is therefore a tool to support you as you make decisions on how to manage your own health as well as your children’s. A genetic consultation can help you: understand the medical aspects and possible implications of a disease; know which genetic tests are available and decide whether a test is a good option for you; discuss and understand genetic testing results; identify resources to obtain additional information and support; and discuss concerns about potential genetic discrimination by insurance companies.

There are thousands of genetic testing options, and they don’t all necessarily offer the same level of information. Since it is important to select a test based on your personal and family history and clinical situation, consulting a genetic counsellor is recommended.

Genetic counselling is useful for individuals, couples and families who have genetic concerns, including questions about the risk of developing a genetic disease. It may be useful if you want to know more about:

  • The risk of developing a hereditary disease;
  • The risk of carrying a hereditary disease (cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, hemophilia, etc.);
  • The risk of having a child with a hereditary disease;
  • Prenatal screening and diagnostic options;
  • The more common genetic diseases affecting certain ethnic groups, including African Americans, French Canadians (e.g., Charlevoix, Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean), and people of Jewish, Mediterranean or Asian descent.

Did you know?

Most diseases, like cancer, heart disease and neurological disorders, have a genetic component. They are not necessarily hereditary, but some carry a higher genetic risk than others.

Who are genetic counsellors?

Genetic counsellors are specialized health professionals. They have a master’s degree in this field, and most are certified by the Canadian Association of Genetic Counsellors or the American Board of Genetic Counseling. They work in clinics, hospitals, educational institutions or specialized laboratories.

If you have any questions or need more information, please don’t hesitate to call our customer service number at 1 833 590-2712.