Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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Monroe Carell Jr.
Children's Hospital
at Vanderbilt
2200 Children's Way
Nashville, TN 37232

(615) 936-1000

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Frequently Asked Questions


Why do people usually visit a genetics clinic?

A physician will refer a patient to a genetics clinic for a variety of reasons. Typically, your child's physician will make a referral if he or she thinks that a medical condition may have an underlying genetic cause. Or, it's possible that a genetic clinic visit may reveal information that will help your physician make a proper diagnosis.

What happens at a genetics clinic appointment?

Genetics clinics provide evaluation, information, and testing for a variety of rare inherited conditions. Some of these conditions are very mild, while others cause serious medical problems. It is helpful, but not required, for both parents to come with a child who is referred for a genetic evaluation.

During a clinic visit, a genetic counselor will speak with you to take background medical information and a family history. If the visit was scheduled to check for a genetic condition, a geneticist (a doctor who is specially trained in genetics) will examine your child. The doctor and genetic counselor will talk with you about the exam and their recommendations. Testing is not always necessary to confirm a diagnosis, but blood or urine tests or X-rays may be recommended.

Who should consider counseling for familial cancer syndromes?

Anyone who has concerns regarding their personal risk of developing cancer is welcome to contact us. Families are more likely to be “at risk” if several family members have had early onset cancer (occurring prior to age 45).

For more information and to receive clinical services, contact the familial cancer risk assessment program at Vanderbilt at (615) 322-2064.

How can I arrange for paternity testing?

We do not perform this testing. It is available at private labs.

Paternity testing can be done during pregnancy as well as after delivery. Blood samples from both the mother and possible father are required to compare with a blood or other genetic sample from the baby.

If a child gets an abnormal result on a newborn screening test, what does it mean?

All babies born in the U.S. are screened for several rare genetic conditions. If a child has an “abnormal” newborn screening result, he or she needs to be retested as soon as possible. If the result is still abnormal, the baby will be referred to the nearest genetics clinic for more accurate testing. Many babies with abnormal results do not have a genetic condition. Those who have such a condition are started on appropriate therapy immediately.

Learn more about our newborn screening program.

If a child has a genetic condition, does this mean that he/she inherited it from one or both parents?

Not necessarily. Some genetic conditions are inherited from both parents. Others are inherited from either the mother or the father. Other genetic conditions are caused by a change in the genetic material, and therefore are not inherited.

If one person in a family has a genetic condition, will all siblings be affected?

Usually the siblings would not all be affected. The risk for brothers or sisters to inherit a condition varies depending on the condition. The risk may be less than 1 percent in some cases or may be 25 percent or 50 percent depending on the diagnosis and on whom else is affected.

Can genetic conditions be diagnosed before birth?

Some conditions can be diagnosed prenatally at 10 to 12 weeks gestation using the chorionic villi sampling procedure or at 15 to 18 weeks using the amniocentesis procedure. Contact your obstetrician or a genetic center if you would like more information about testing for a specific condition.

Can an adopted child be tested to rule out potentially harmful genetic conditions?

There is no test that can check for all genetic conditions. Any family history that is available can be helpful as well as an examination by a geneticist to determine if testing would be helpful.

Last Edited: December 9, 2016
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