Genetic Counseling Services | Loyola Medicine

Genetic Counseling Services

Advanced Diagnostic Procedure to Determine Genetic Complications

Loyola Medicine provides genetic counseling for hopeful parents with a family history of genetic disorders and couples who are worried about the possible risk of genetic complications in current or future pregnancies. Our certified genetic specialists work closely with maternal-fetal medicine specialists to provide complete pre- and post-conception genetic testing and counseling services. 

Common reasons for women to be referred for prenatal genetic counseling include:

  • Abnormal blood tests
  • Abnormal diagnostic genetic test
  • Abnormal ultrasound genetic screening tests
  • Advanced maternal age (35 or older at due date)
  • Consanguinity
  • Family history (or previous child) with mental retardation, birth defect or genetic disorder
  • History of three or more miscarriages, one stillbirth or neonatal death
  • Teratogen exposure (fetal exposure to alcohol, smoking, medications, street drugs, chemicals, infections and maternal medical conditions)

Loyola’s specialists provide education on available genetic tests, as well as the risks and benefits of genetic testing. We also support our patients in receiving and understanding the implications of any test results. 

Why Choose Loyola for Genetic Counseling?

Loyola provides truly integrated care in genetic counseling, bringing together specialists in obstetrics and gynecology and maternal-fetal medicine to provide advanced genetic testing in a compassionate environment. Our team has a proven track record for improving survival rates and reducing mortality of high-risk babies born to mothers who may have medical or surgical complications. 

As part of an academic medical center, Loyola’s expert clinicians perform and teach the latest surgical techniques and medical treatments in numerous locations across the Chicago area. In addition, our nurses have earned Magnet status, which means they have been recognized for delivering the highest level of care.

What to Expect with Genetic Counseling

Loyola’s licensed counselors will take detailed personal and family histories for both partners and talk about the role genetics plays in conception and certain diseases. Your healthcare team will order tests to determine if there are any genetic problems. Our compassionate counselors are experienced in helping couples process the results of testing; they will answer all of your questions and provide useful resources. 
Some of the genetic tests and services offered at Loyola include:

  • Advanced obstetric ultrasound — Using high-frequency sound waves, your Loyola technologist can produce moving images to monitor the health and development of your baby during pregnancy. This test is painless, non-invasive, uses no radiation and can be used to detect conditions that could affect the baby’s development and delivery. Learn more about ultrasounds.  
  • Alpha fetoprotein (AFP) blood test — AFP screening is offered to all pregnant women and is most accurate between 16 and 18 weeks of pregnancy. This non-invasive blood test may signal the need for further testing to determine if the baby is at risk for abnormalities or defects such as spina bifida, anencephaly, Down syndrome or Edwards syndrome.
  • Amniocentesis — During this procedure, amniotic fluid is removed from the uterus and tested for signs of genetic disorders or abnormalities. Amniocentesis is usually performed at 15 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. This test is invasive and carries a small risk of miscarriage. 
  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) — For women with a family history of genetic conditions or if the mother is older than 35, CVS may be recommended to assess the baby’s risk for a genetic condition such as Down syndrome. This test carries a small risk of miscarriage. 
  • Cordocentesis or umbilical cord sampling — During this test, a sample of the baby’s blood is removed from the umbilical cord and tested for blood conditions and infections. This test is invasive and carries a risk of miscarriage. 
  • Triple test — This test, also known as the Kettering test or Bart’s test, is performed during the second trimester to check for chromosomal abnormalities, including neural tube defects

Exceptional Services for Mothers and Babies

Loyola’s genetic counseling program offers diagnosis and treatment in outstanding, conveniently located facilities. We offer multidisciplinary facilities at the Loyola University Medical Center campus, in addition to outpatient services at other locations. We offer the following specialized services to provide you with the most comprehensive care:

  • Fetal Assessment Center — Loyola’s center provides expert obstetrical ultrasound services, perinatal consultative services, genetic counseling, diagnostic testing and fetal heart rate testing. All assessment services are conveniently provided at the Loyola Outpatient Center. Learn more about our Fetal Assessment Center.
  • Maternal-fetal medicine services — Our experienced maternal-fetal medicine specialists will help diagnose and treat any condition that may arise or affect mothers who are expecting a high-risk birth or pregnancy. They are experts at complicated pregnancies and have vast experience in complex deliveries. Learn more about maternal-fetal medicine services.
  • Neonatal follow-up program — Our specialists will evaluate infants at risk of developmental delays after they leave the hospital. A neonatologist will attend to babies until they reach 18 months, after which they are seen by a child development specialist. We also provide additional care for infants sent home on monitors and oxygen, as well as those receiving caffeine therapy for apnea of prematurity (AOP).
  • Neonatal integrated home care program — Our experts will train and support your family in the care of preterm infants and babies born with certain conditions. NICU nurses trained in home care will provide high-tech infusion services, physical and occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, medical social services and instruction in transitioning a preterm infant to oral feeding.
  • Neonatal intensive care unit — Loyola has one of the state’s highest survival rates for low-birth-weight infants. Our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) cares for more than 400 critically ill newborns each year. Loyola’s doctors have successfully delivered more than 3,000 babies who weighed less than two pounds, including the world’s smallest and second-smallest surviving babies. In addition, Loyola’s NICU serves as a national model for care with a survival rate that is among the best in the country. Learn more about our NICU.
  • Perinatal Center — Our state-designated Level III Perinatal Center has a proven track record of improving survival rates of high-risk babies born to mothers who have conditions that require advanced medical or surgical care. Our skilled clinicians provide coordinated high-risk obstetrical and neonatal services for some of the most challenging cases in Illinois. We provide individualized consultations in both inpatient and outpatient settings and are available to arrange transportation for high-risk babies to Loyola on a 24/7 basis. Our board-certified specialists are on-call around the clock, seven days a week. Learn more about our Perinatal Center.
  • Reproductive endocrinology and infertility program – If you and your partner have been struggling with infertility, or you have symptoms of a hormonal condition, talk with our team about the many treatment options that are now available. Learn more about reproductive endocrinology and infertility.

Ongoing Research to Improve Genetic Counseling Techniques

Loyola’s women’s health specialists are at the leading edge of new technology and are conducting research to derive innovative approaches in patient care. Current research topics include:

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Breastfeeding 
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Intrauterine growth restriction
  • Multifetal pregnancies
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Preterm labor
  • Tocolytic therapies 

As an academic medical center, Loyola is dedicated to improving future treatments by conducting research on new diagnostics and treatments. Loyola’s patients benefit from research discoveries made here; read about Loyola’s current clinical trials.