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When you meet with your OB doctor or nurse the first time, you will be asked questions about your family health history.

This might include information about birth defects such as a cleft lip, or genetic conditions such as muscular dystrophy, or cancers in the family. Having this information can help your doctor know if your pregnancy might benefit from any special screenings.

Most birth defects happen by chance and are not related to genes that pass from parents to children in a family. This is also true of other health conditions such as diabetes or learning disabilities. In some families, however, there can be genes that run in the family that increase the risk for certain health problems. By asking about your family health history, your doctor can know whether your baby could have an increased chance for certain birth defects or genetic conditions.

Please remember that nearly all babies are healthy and do not have genetic conditions. Your family health history is a good place to look for clues of genetic disease. If you have any questions, please ask your doctor or ask to speak to a genetic counselor.

For more information about genetic counseling and testing, view these videos presented by our Certified Genetic Counselor Susan Landgren, MS.

  • Family History and Genetic Screening
  • What is Advanced Maternal Age
  • What’s New in Genetic Testing in Pregnancy
  • Screening and Testing for Chromosomal Syndromes in Pregnancy



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