What is Genetic Counselling?
Genetic counselling is a service that is provided by qualified health care professionals to help families understand the implications of genetic conditions. Genetic counsellors assist patients by helping them to understand the cause of a genetic condition, how best to manage the condition and what the implications of a genetic diagnosis are for themselves, their children and other family members. They are also able to assist in managing the emotional impact of a genetic condition. Genetic counselling can assist families in making well-informed decisions about their health and wellbeing.
Who could benefit from Genetic Counselling?
Genetic counselling may be of benefit to you if you and/or your partner:
- Has a known genetic condition which can be passed on to your children
- Has had a child born with a birth defect or developmental delay
- Are related to each other (e.g. cousins) and intend to have children
- Has had three or more consecutive first trimester miscarriages
- Is concerned about your family history of cancer
- Is a woman who is 35 years or older and is pregnant or planning a pregnancy
- Belongs to a particular ethnic group (e.g. Ashkenazi Jewish or Afrikaners) that is known to be at risk of certain genetic conditions.
Do I have to pay for genetic counselling?
Payment for genetic counselling services depends on whether you see a genetic counsellor through the state system or in private practice.
Under the state system, individuals will be billed for a consultation through the hospital. The amount the individual pays will be dependent on their income and determined by the health system.
In private practice, genetic counsellors bill the patients directly and this can often be claimed back from medical aid. Specific rates can vary between genetic counsellors.
If genetic tests are required (as recommended by your genetic counsellor following risk assessment) they are billed separately either by the hospital laboratory systems (NHLS in state) or private laboratories (e.g. PathCare, Ampath, etc.). You will need to check with your medical aid if they will cover these costs prior to going for testing.
Find a Genetic Counsellor in your area
Currently, genetic services for both private and state patients are available in several areas around the country, like Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Pietermaritzburg, Pretoria and Stellenbosch. Many of the genetic services in these places can assist patients living in other areas as well. If you would like to access any of these services or find out more information, please email us firstname.lastname@example.org.