What to expect at a Genetics appointment?

What is the Genetics Clinic?

You have been asked to be seen by Genetics because you or a family member has a health condition that has required medical attention that could have an impact on other family members. The genetic doctors and genetic counsellors will try to find a reason for these problems. Finding answers, however, is not always possible.

What should I do before my appointment?

Try to gather all available health information about your extended family. We need to know about anyone with birth defects, medical problems or learning problems. Pictures of family members (at younger and older ages) are sometimes helpful, so bring them with you, if you can. It is also important for us to know about miscarriages or children that died at young ages. Knowing why these events happened is also helpful.

Where do I go for my appointment?

Clinics are held at the Montreal Children’s Hospital and the Royal Victoria Hospital. When booking your appointment, the secretary will tell you exactly where to go.

What is a geneticist?

A geneticist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating families with different medical issues that can include single or multiple birth defects, sensory deficits (like hearing loss or blindness) learning disabilities and developmental delay, errors of metabolism, problems with growth (short or tall stature), and familial disorders such as cancer, high cholesterol and heart disease.

What is a genetic counsellor?

Genetic counsellors are health care professionals with specialized Master of Science graduate degrees with experience in the areas of medical genetics and counselling. Click to see the pamphlet.

Genetic counsellors can help families understand a diagnosis by providing accurate, current and comprehensive information. In addition, genetic counsellors can help individuals understand the information relevant to reproductive risks and  risks to other family members. An emphasis is put on helping individuals cope with the emotional impact of genetic conditions in their families by providing preliminary counselling and referring patients to other support networks as needed.

Why is the Genetics Clinic Important?

Finding a reason for a family member's health condition is important.

  1. It may explain why the problem happened. Learning why may be reassuring.
  2. Once an answer is found, it can help families learn more about what to expect in the future. In some cases, treatment may be available.
  3. Some conditions run in families and we let families know if this condition is something that may occur again. In such cases, means of prevention may be available.
  4. Genetic counselling may also help you understand these problems and help your family adjust. Written information may be available, as well as referrals to support organizations.

What should you expect in the Genetics Clinic?

For further general information about genetic conselling go to: www.geneticalliance.org.

What happens after the Genetics appointment?

A letter summarizing the evaluation, discussion and follow-up plans will be written and sent to the patient’s referring physician. A letter may also be sent to the family.