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Genetic Counseling

As researchers’ understanding of genetic disease and patterns of inheritance grows and evolves, so, too, does the need to share and explain this knowledge to individuals and families who are directly affected. According to the World Health Organization, “Genetic counselling is the process through which knowledge about the genetic aspects of illnesses is shared by trained professionals with those who are at an increased risk of either having a heritable disorder or of passing it on to their unborn offspring.” This entry examines the history of genetic counseling, its use in clinical practice, and bioethical considerations.

History

The origins of present-day genetic counseling are often assumed to be ancient taboos and religious admonitions against incest and perhaps the ubiquitous consideration of family illness in determining suitability of ...

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