Genetic Counseling: Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment Center

genetic counseling team The genetic counseling team at the Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment Center. Standing (L to R): Cathy Lawson, Carol Nowlen, Kristen Miller, Sitting (L to R): Chrissy Hertenstein, Sabrina Southwick

Prenatal or preconception genetic counseling is appropriate for:

  • Pregnant individuals 35 and over
  • Pregnant individuals who have had abnormal results from prenatal screening tests, such as ultrasound and bloodwork
  • Pregnant individuals concerned about an exposure, such as medications or infections, during pregnancy
  • Pregnant individuals who may need an in utero intervention (such as fetoscopic spina bifida repair)
  • Couples or pregnant individuals with a family history of a genetic condition
  • Couples or pregnant individuals who have a personal or family history of multiple miscarriages or pregnancy losses
  • Couples who are experiencing infertility
  • Individuals who are known carriers of a genetic condition or chromosome condition/rearrangement
  • Individuals who are considering in vitro fertilization (IVF) with genetic testing of embryos (preimplantation genetic testing, or PGT)
  • Couples who share a blood relation (consanguinity)

Our Services

Our genetic counselors provide:

What to Expect from a Genetic Counseling Session

If you are expecting a baby or planning to get pregnant, you may be referred for genetic counseling.

For patients who are expecting:

  1. During the counseling session, your genetic counselor will review your pregnancy and family histories.
  2. Results of relevant tests performed by your obstetrician will be discussed.
  3. Your genetic counselor will describe the features of conditions for which your baby may be at an increased risk, and discuss further testing options, such as:
    • Ultrasound
    • Cell-free DNA screening (also called NIPT or non-invasive prenatal testing), carrier screening and other screening tests
    • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)
    • Amniocentesis
  4. The benefits and risks of these procedures will be described. Your genetic counselor will organize the testing you desire. Procedures such as CVS, amniocentesis and ultrasound are performed by perinatologists (obstetricians with training in Maternal-Fetal medicine) in our Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment Center.

Results from genetic testing will be communicated to you and your obstetric care provider by your genetic counselor. In most pregnancies, testing results are normal and reassuring to the family. If a fetal condition is detected, your genetic counselor will provide additional information and referrals to specialists.

The primary goal of genetic counseling is to provide information and support for your decisions regarding genetic testing in your pregnancy.

For patients who are planning a pregnancy:

  1. You may decide to meet with a genetic counselor because you are concerned about your age, your family history or the risk of inherited conditions.
  2. Your genetic counselor will review family history and any available medical records. The options of carrier screening and other tests or referrals, as appropriate, will be discussed.
  3. If you elect to proceed with testing, your genetic counselor will coordinate those studies and report the results to you and your physician. Reproductive options for future pregnancies will also be reviewed.

Our genetic counselors have a master’s degree in genetic counseling, are certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and are licensed by the Maryland Board of Physicians.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 410-955-3091.

Our Team

Licensed & Certified Genetic Counselors

  • Cathy Lawson, MS, LCGC
  • Chrissy Hertenstein, MGC, LCGC
  • Kristen Miller, MGC, LCGC
  • Carol Nowlen, MS, LCGC
  • Sabrina Southwick, MS, LCGC

Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialists/Geneticists

  • Karin Blakemore MD

    • Director, Prenatal Genetics
    • Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics

    Expertise: Medical Genetics, Maternal and Fetal Medicine, Obstetrics

  • Angie Jelin MD

    • Program Director, Maternal-Fetal Medicine Fellowship
    • Associate Professor of Gynecology and Obstetrics

    Expertise: Medical Genetics, Maternal and Fetal Medicine, Obstetrics