Thursday, October 13, 2011

Attend the Late Breaking Session at the AEC!

Attend the Late Breaking Information Plenary: “Non-Invasive Prenatal Diagnosis: Clinical and Ethical Implications for Genetic Counselors.” While on first glance this is a prenatal topic, this session is important for EVEYRONE!

Last summer when we began discussions about a topic for the Late Breaking Session, I wasn’t sure that the Non-invasive Prenatal Diagnosis (NIPD) topic was one pertinent to all of our members, including me. I’ve never done prenatal counseling and my knowledge of the specialty is embarrassingly limited. In fact, during my first pregnancy when I was exploring prenatal testing options with my MFM, a colleague and friend, I knew so little she shook her head and said with a smile, “Thank God you’re not teaching my class [of GC students]!” So, if your prenatal knowledge is limited, you are not alone.

However, as I’ve learned more about NIPD in the last months, I’ve realized this topic is not only applicable to prenatal genetic counselors, it’s important for all of us. The technology may initially have a large impact on prenatal counselors’ practice as more patients may opt to pursue non-invasive testing. The patients, as well as the community OBs ordering the testing, may not know how to interpret the results they receive. Therefore, I expect prenatal counselors will definitely be busy. But the integration of NIPD as a potential standard of care in OB offices (and I’m making a lot of assumptions here) would impact our entire profession. All genetic counselors need to think through potential issues and implications for our profession. We need to explore questions such as: What are the pros and cons of this new technology? What are the risk and benefits to patients and families? What new aspects of genetic counseling practice will emerge? Will genetic counselors in other specialties be offering this reproductive option to families at risk for single gene disorders? How will genetic counselors be perceived by the community as we counsel patients about disorders identified by NIPD? Will we be seen as the experts to whom patients should obtain up to date and balanced information, or will we be seen as proponents of early prenatal diagnosis to eliminate “undesirable” diagnoses? What opportunities exist for genetic counselors to promote themselves as resources for physicians and patients as this technology is put into use?

What a long list of questions for us to ponder and explore together! Please join us at the Late Breaking Plenary Session on Sunday morning, October 30, at 8:30 am to discuss the implications of this topic for our profession as a whole as well the impact to your practice and specialty. Dr. Wayne Grody will provide an introduction and overview of the basic technology and its applications, Kelly Ormond, MS, CGC, will discuss the clinical and ethical aspects of the technology, and Patricia Devers, MS, CGC, will moderate a discussion with the speakers and audience. Additionally, if you are interested in learning more about the development of NIPD and the technology behind it, please attend the EBS on Friday afternoon at 1:00pm.

We look forward to seeing you soon in San Diego!