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Genetic Testing and Screening

Programs that conduct tests of an individual's genetic material (DNA, RNA, chromosomes, proteins, and certain metabolites) to establish whether there are risk factors associated with particular diseases or disabilities, to help identify or exonerate individuals involved in criminal matters based on DNA evidence, or to establish paternity or maternity for legal or immigration purposes. Genetic testing generally involves individuals suspected of criminal activity or being at high risk for a disease or disability whereas genetic screening is conducted with a broader population about which risk factors are unknown.

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Genetic Counselling

Programs that apply what is known about human genetics to advise prospective parents who are concerned about the recurrence of hereditary problems or abnormalities in their offspring or for others (adults and children) who may be at risk for a variety of inherited conditions and need information about their own prospects for health. Genetic counselling is also routinely offered to women, usually age 35 and older, who are considering a first pregnancy. Genetic counsellors identify families at risk, investigate the problem present in the family, interpret information about the disorder, analyze inheritance patterns and risks of recurrence and review available options with the family. They also provide supportive counselling to families, serve as patient advocates and refer individuals and families to community or provincial support services.

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Prenatal Care

Programs that provide medical care for expectant mothers from the time of conception to the onset of labour to ensure their own physical well-being and the healthy development and birth of their child. Services generally include identification of risk factors based on age, health and/or personal and family history that may affect a woman's pregnancy; diet and lifestyle advice; routine checkups to look for signs of problems associated with pregnancy (such as edema, preeclampsia, or gestational diabetes) and to assure that the pregnancy is progressing well; ultrasound and other forms of prenatal testing to monitor fetal development and check for possible birth defects; and general information about being pregnant, e.g., what is normal and what is cause for concern, remedies for morning sickness or sleeplessness, managing weight gain and other common issues.

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The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.


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