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Gynecology & Obstetrics

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Genetic Counseling: Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment Center

Johns Hopkins genetic counseling team The genetic counseling team at the Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment Center.

Prenatal genetic counseling is appropriate for:

  • Women 33 and older
  • Women who have had abnormal results from prenatal screening tests, such as ultrasound and bloodwork
  • Women concerned about an exposure, such as medications or infections, during pregnancy
  • Couples with a family history of a genetic condition
  • Couples who have experienced multiple miscarriages
  • Couples who are experiencing infertility
  • Individuals who are known carriers of a genetic condition

Our genetic counselors provide:

  • Information about the risk of fetal abnormalities and further screening and testing options
  • Information about chromosomal abnormalities, birth defects or genetic conditions of concern
  • Consideration of the factors involved in decisions about carrier screening or prenatal testing
  • Coordination of genetic testing
  • Communication of results from testing performed through the center
  • Resources and educational materials
  • Collaboration with other specialists as needed, including maternal-fetal medicinepediatric genetics, fetal therapy, neonatologypediatric cardiology, pediatric surgery and pediatric neurology, as needed.

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. The 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:
  4. ​The benefits and risks of these procedures will be described. The counselors 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 the genetic counselors. In most pregnancies, testing results are normal and reassuring to the family. If a fetal abnormality is detected, the 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 seek the advice of genetic counselors because you are concerned about your age, your family history or the risk of inherited conditions.
  2. Your genetic counselor will take a family history and review any available medical records. Carrier testing may be available in certain situations and 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.

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

Additional information is available on the patient information sheet and the first trimester screening sheet. Also included is our history sheet, which can be completed for discussion at a counseling appointment.

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

Our Team

Certified Genetic Counselors

  • Cathleen S. Lawson, MS
  • Katherine Rock Forster, MS
  • Christine B. Hertenstein, MGC
  • Katelynn G. Sagaser, MS
  • Kristen A. Leppert, MGC

Maternal-Fetal Medicine Specialists/Geneticists