Parenting & Pregnancy: Genetic testing helps families prepare for a new baby

In this week’s Parenting & Pregnancy, KEZI 9 News talked to experts at Women’s Care to learn about how genetic testing has evolved to help families prepare for new babies.

Posted: Aug 13, 2020 4:03 PM

EUGENE, Ore. – No pregnancy is the same; it can be different from person to person or from pregnancy to pregnancy for the same woman.

In this week’s Parenting & Pregnancy, KEZI 9 News talked to experts at Women’s Care to learn about how genetic testing has evolved to help families prepare for new babies.

Most pregnancies are considered low risk, but some can be considered high risk.

“What we do is take care of women with high risk pregnancies, and that can be either a preexisting maternal condition, something that comes up in the pregnancy, like preterm labor or ruptured membranes, or a problem that can be developing with the baby,” said Dr. Charlotte Clausen, Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist at Women’s Care. “So we do a lot of ultrasounds and prenatal diagnosis.”

This also includes moms with high blood pressure, chronic kidney disease, underlying heart problems or moms expecting twins and triplets.

Clausen works with the patients to create a birthing plan.

“We do a lot of complex ultrasounds,” Clausen said. “Fetal echocardiograms, twin-twin transfusion checks. We do doppler, blood flow things and those studies. We need the best machines possible, and so we have those even for our screening exams.”

There are also different screening tests that can be conducted. Panethnic carrier screends can find things passed down through families.

“The most common one we see is cystic fibrosis. So families don’t have to have a history of a problem, they just need to carry it in their genes. They just have to have that perfect match and the baby could be affected,” Clausen said.

Chromosonal screens can look for abnormalities in the baby’s chromosomes.

“The most common chromosonal problems are extra 21, 18 and 30 – 21 which is Down’s syndrome. They comprise 70% of chromosonal problems. So, some really nice screening information on that if people want to assess the risk in pregnancy,” Clausen said.

Screening is optional, but Clausen said it can help families have a better birthing plan.

“One of my main things is, 'Where is it safest to deliver?’ We have a lot of resources here at RiverBend. We have the NICU, pediatric surgeons, the cardiology. But there are some cases where they need to be delivered up in Portland where they have pediatric neurosurgery and other specialties that we don't have,” Clausen said.

Find a Women's Care location here.

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