Some health conditions are passed on from parents to their children. To understand your risk, talk with your doctor about any health problems that run in your family because they may affect future pregnancies.

Your doctor may suggest that you and your partner talk with a genetic counselor. This is someone with special training who can explain your risk of having a baby with a birth defect or a genetic condition. More information about genetic counseling...

Genetic counseling prior to pregnancy may be especially helpful for:

  • People who have had babies who died in infancy or 3 or more miscarriages.
  • Couples who have children or relatives with birth defects or mental retardation.
  • Descendants of the Eastern European Jewish Population and French Canadians due to risk for Tay-Sachs disease, a severe condition that worsens over time.
  • Descendants of individuals from the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, India, Pakistan, or Africa, whose children are at risk for Thalassemia, a blood disorder.
  • Descendants of individuals from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, whose children are at risk of sickle cell disease, a blood disorder.
  • Couples with cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy in the family.
  • People who may become pregnant after age 34 due to an increased risk of having a baby with a genetic condition.

In any case, talking with your health care worker about your family health history can help you stay healthy. Click here to create a family health history.