What is Genetic Counseling
Genetic counseling is a specialized branch of medicine aimed at helping individuals, couples and families understand and adapt to the medical, psychological, familial and reproductive implications of the genetic contribution to specific health conditions.
The suspicion of a genetic disorder in a newborn, a family history of cancers, a positive result from a prenatal genetic screen for Down syndrome, a child diagnosed with Autism— these are a few examples of scenarios that confront patients with complex information to be understood and assimilated, and with an array of conflicting emotions. These - as well as other- scenarios oftentimes require difficult decision-making that involve many technical, ethical and highly personal questions. Genetic counseling plays an invaluable role in this process by offering specialized services within a clinical setting.
Genetic Counselors help individuals address the scientific and emotional issues that arise in such situations and actively help them make informed decisions based on their own values and individual circumstances.
WHAT DOES GENETIC COUNSELING INVOLVE?
Interpretation of family and medical histories to assess the chance of disease occurrence or recurrence
About the natural history of the condition, inheritance pattern, testing, management, prevention, support resources and research
Counselling to promote informed choices in view of risk assessment, family goals, ethical and religious values
Support to encourage the best possible adjustment to the disorder in an affected family member and/or to the risk of recurrence of that disorder
How to prepare for Genetic Counseling?
Genetic Counseling appointments are quite a bit different as compared to your typical doctor’s appointments. They typically last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour, and are designed to be an opportunity to ask questions, raise any concerns/fears you may have, and learn more. You can get the most out of your genetic counseling appointment if you gather as much information as possible about your family history beforehand, if possible.
This includes doctors' notes and pathology reports. These are important in order to confirm a clinical diagnosis or rule out a suspected diagnosis. Your medical records are extremely helpful in guiding genetic assessment and/or testing.
FAMILY MEMBERS & THEIR HEALTH
This includes each person's current age or age at the time of diagnosis or death, and cause of death. This list should include blood relatives only (parents, siblings, children, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandparents, and cousins) on both sides of your family.
MAJOR DISEASES IN FAMILY
Make a note of any cancers, heart disease, mental illness, known genetic conditions, birth defects, mental retardation, infant/sudden deaths, any miscarriages or fertility issues. Don’t forget to complete a health history questionnaire before your appointment.
Even though having family history details is very helpful, you should not avoid genetic counseling or be worried about having a useful appointment just because you do not know a lot about your family history. Our Genetic Counselors will consider as much information as available and help you understand your risks, available testing options, implications to your health as well as that of your family.
When to refer to Genetic Counseling?
PRENATAL GENETIC COUNSELING
PRECONCEPTION GENETIC COUNSELING
PEDIATRIC GENETIC COUNSELING
ADULT GENETIC COUNSELING
Meet our Genetic Counselors!
Neeraja Reddy Malleda
VP – Genetic Counseling
Neeraja Reddy Malleda is a much sought-after genetic counsellor in India and Vice President of Genetic Counselling at Mapmygenome. After completing graduation from Brandeis University, Neeraja has been committed to improving access of trained genetic counselors to families and physicians. During her time as a genetic counsellor at the University of Pennsylvania, she specialised in telegenetics and cancer counselling. Her contribution to the field of Genetic Counseling in India as a board-certified genetic counselor is immense. She strives to increase awareness of genetic counseling among professionals and the public.
Senior Genetic Counselor
Vaishnavi Narayan is a senior genetic counselor at MMG with a masters in BioMedical Genetics and Genetic Counseling from VIT University. She has previously worked with hospitals & companies like Sir Gangaram Hospital, Datar genetics, Genes2Me, & LifeCell with a focus on reproductive, pediatric, adult & personal genomics. When not neck-deep in genetics, she spends most of her time reading, dreaming of her next vacation, collecting way too many plants and running after her adorable dog (who positively rules over her)
Senior Genetic Counselor
Vaishnavi Suresh is a Board Certified Level 2 Genetic counselor. She holds a Master’s in Human Genetics and Molecular Biology from Bharathiar University, Coimbatore, further she has done a Specialization in Medical Genetics and Genetic Counseling from Kamineni. Having worked in a healthcare set up she is well experienced in Prenatal, Reproductive, Infertility, Pediatrics, Newborn, and Adult onset-related counseling.
Surya Babu is an IMA-certified genetic counselor. She has completed her Master's in Biotechnology from Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) and has completed Certificate in Genetic Counseling from BGCI-IMA evarsity. She was previously associated with companies and hospitals such as Vieroots Wellness Solutions Pvt. Ltd., Medgenome Labs Ltd, and Lifeline Super Specialty Hospital and is experienced and skilled in Personal Genomics, and Health and Wellness.