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Genetic Testing for Learning Disabilities

written by: •edited by: Stephanie Mojica•updated: 3/20/2011

Genetic testing for learning disabilities is used to determine if an unborn child will have a disability. The tests can prepare parents on how to provide support for the child's disability. In this article you will learn about the genetic tests available and how they are performed.

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    Genetic testing is used to find out if a person is going to inherit a disorder before they are born. This medical test can identify changes in the patient's chromosomes, genes, or proteins. Once the test is completed, a doctor can rule out if a person will inherit or be able to pass on a genetic disorder.

    When a person has a learning disability, their brain is "wired" a little differently than someone without the disorder. The neurological disorder causes a difficulty in how the person reads, writes, reasons, spells, and recalls information. Having a learning disability does not mean the person is not smart; they are just as smart as other people or even smarter.

    Although genetic testing can identify if the person will have a learning disability, it cannot be prevented or cured. The parents can prepare themselves and learn about ways to support their child's special need. In this article you will learn about genetic testing for learning disabilities.

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    Ultrasound and Genetic Screening

    The ultrasound in combination with genetic screening is the most commonly used prenatal genetic test. The test screens maternal blood samples. The fetal cells are mixed with maternal cells and can identify if there is a risk of a disorder. So although this test may identify if a problem is present, it does not give 100 percent accuracy regarding whether an unborn child will inherit the learning disability.

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    Amniocentisis

    An amniocentesis is a more invasive genetic test. An ultrasound is performed and used to guide a large needle that will enter the amniotic sac. The needle will pull a sample of amniotic fluid from the sac. The amniotic fluid contains cells that the fetus sheds. The cells will be used for the genetic screening. The procedure usually takes 45 minutes and is usually performed during 14 and 20 weeks of pregnancy. The results of the test can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks.

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    Chorionic Villus Sampling

    The chorionic villus sampling is used in the early stages of pregnancy. A catheter is placed through the vagina and cervix into the placenta. An alternative to how this procedure is performed is by placing a needle through stomach into the placenta. An ultrasound is used during the procedure to guide the catheter or needle into the correct position for sample collecting.

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    Genetic testing for learning disabilities is a decision left to the parents of the unborn child because of the potential complications and risks of the tests.

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    References

    LD Online: What is a Learning Disabilty and How to Test For It? - http://www.ldonline.org/ldbasics/whatisld

    Genetics Home Reference: What is Genetic Testing? - http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/testing/genetictesting

    The DNA Files: Prenatal Genetic Testing: Do You Really Want to Know Your Baby's Future? - http://www.dnafiles.org/programs/prenatal-genetic-testing