Frequently Asked Questions

Why did my doctor recommend a genetic consultation and/or genetic counseling?

Individuals or families are often referred for genetic consultation and counseling by a family doctor, a specialist, or during a hospital stay. Common reasons to seek genetic consultation and counseling include:

When a child or individual has

When a couple has

When there is a family history of

What happens at a genetics appointment?

At your appointment, you may meet with a medical geneticist and a genetic counselor. Additionally, students in training may participate in the session.

Medical geneticists are physicians who specialize in genetics. Their expertise is in the diagnosis and management of genetic health conditions. Medical geneticists are certified by the American Board of Medical Genetics.

Genetic counselors are health professionals with specialized graduate degrees and experience in the areas of medical genetics and counseling. They are skilled at explaining complex genetic and testing information in understandable terms, and providing support and resources tailored to each family's needs. Genetic counselors are certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling.

A genetics appointment may include:

A summary letter of the visit will be sent to the family and referring physicians.

How can I prepare for the appointment?

What should I know about my family history?

The family history can provide valuable clues to making a diagnosis and understanding inheritance patterns. It is often helpful to ask parents, grandparents or other relatives about family health information in advance of your appointment. The questions you will be asked will vary with the reason that brings you to the appointment. The following are some commonly asked questions to help you prepare.

Further information on gathering your own family history is available from the National Society of Genetic Counselors at

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