What Is Carrier Screening & How Is It Done?

Carrier Screening

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Bringing a life into this world is one of the most enthralling experiences a couple can have together. And as a mother, you wish to give your baby the most healthy and happy life possible.

One of the safer ways of assuring a healthy life for your baby is through carrier screening. It is important for you as a mother to figure out if your baby is at the risk of developing any genetic disease or condition. But if you still haven’t heard about it, here is a post to help you know all you must about carrier screening.

What Is Carrier Screening?

Every baby inherits genes from her parents. Along with habits, looks and other features, a baby may also inherit (or be at the risk of inheriting) a genetic disease/condition from parents. Carrier screening is a test that provides information to the doctor regarding the reproductive risks that you might have. These tests, when positive, clarify the carrier conditions or diseases that your unborn baby might be at the risk of developing at birth (1).

Some of the most common genetic disorders that are screened for during carrier screening are:

  • Thalassemia
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Tay-Sachs disease

[ Read: What Is Sequential Screening ]

Is The Screening Important?

Of course it is. Carrier screening is extremely crucial before you plan to conceive. You and your partner are two individual carriers. Every carrier can be at a risk of genetic disorder, with or without family history. Carrier screening is especially important if any of the following hold true for you:

  • If you are trying or planning to conceive soon.
  • If there is a family history of a genetic disease/condition/disorder.
  • If you, as a part of an ethnic group, as exposed to some specific health condition.
  • If you want to check whether you are at a risk of developing any reproductive condition.

[ Read: Fetal Echocardiography ]

Is The Genetic Carrier Screening Test Painful?

Not at all! Carrier screening is a simple blood test. Your doctor would decide the tests that are appropriate for you and then draw blood accordingly. Generally, it takes about two weeks for the results to come out.

What If I Want To Undergo Carrier Screening After Conceiving?

Ideally, it is best to go for carrier screening prior to conceiving. However, if you haven’t been able to get one done so far, you may also get it done after conceiving. But even then, it is best to get a screening done as soon as you know or learn about the pregnancy.

[ Read: CBC Test During Pregnancy ]

What If The Tests Are Positive?

Firstly, you must not panic if the tests come positive. There are higher chances of your baby being born with a genetic disorder/condition/disease if both parents are tested positive for the test. But when either of the parents is tested positive for a certain disorder, there are less but still 50% chances of the baby being born with such disease.

[ Read: Genetic Testing During Pregnancy ]

What If The Tests Come Negative?

Negative results generally reduce the likelihood of your baby being a carrier. However, it does not eliminate complete possibility (2).

Remember carrier screening is only a process to avoid the possibility of a mutation of any genetic disorder in your baby. The procedure is as necessary as any other measure that you might for your darling’s safety.

Remember that you don’t need to panic if the results come out positive. The very purpose of the screening is to find out and arrest the problem at the very onset. The screening will only help you fight the problem for your baby better.

Tell us if you underwent a carrier screening before conceiving and how it helped you. Leave your comments below.

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