Genetic Testing and Genetic Counseling
There are few things more exciting than a positive pregnancy test. The prospect of bringing a child into the world is a joyous one. Some people struggle with infertility to reach that point, and employ the services of doctors and scientists to bring a healthy child into a world. Others become pregnant on their own. The first meetings with the obstetrician are typically filled with questions, instructions, recommendations and advice. In that meeting, though, the obstetrician has a duty to explain the role of genetic testing.
Women struggling with infertility have options to fulfill their dreams of becoming pregnant. In vitrofertilization (IVF), intrauterine insemination (IU), surrogacy, surgery, ovulation induction and other methods are now commonplace. Donor sperm or eggs are frequently used in many of these procedures. Donor material can come from family, friends, or licensed donor centers.
Donated sperm and eggs must be the end-result of a long process of quality control. Donor centers are held to the highest standards in terms of donor identification and background checks, medical testing and psychological testing. The donated material must be screened for infectious disease, and donors may need to be genetically tested.
A donor center’s failure to follow any of these protocols can lead to the birth of a child with significant medical problems that may require a lifetime of extraordinary care. Spina bifida, cystic fibrosis and Down Syndrome are just some of the genetic problems that can arise from improper donor screening.
For people with family histories of genetic problems and for some women who qualify as being of “advanced maternal age”, genetic counseling is an option to discover the risks of pregnancy. When properly done, women hoping to become pregnant can evaluate their risks and compare them to other options, like surrogacy or adoption. If improperly performed, women may choose to become pregnant or to forgo further testing, unaware of the actual risks.
Particularly for women of “advanced maternal age” and would-be parents with a family history of genetic abnormalities, it is important for doctors to thoroughly explain the options for genetic screening during the pregnancy. Doctors should closely evaluate ultrasounds for any indication of abnormal growth, and should offer an amniocentesis at the appropriate time, usually between 16 and 22 weeks. An amniocentesis is a process where a sample of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby is withdrawn and tested to determine if the baby has genetic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities. Failure to offer those tests, failure to properly perform those tests, or failure to correctly report the results can result in wrongful birth or wrongful life birth injury lawsuits.
If you have a child who was born with a genetic disorder, contact our contact our birth injury lawyers at (440) 252-4399 or send us a confidential online message. We can help you to determine whether your child is entitled to payment for a lifetime of extraordinary medical costs.