Genetics in Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Early detection solves the problem of lifelong prevention!

Medicine is a broad field, expanding through the length and breadth of every aspect of human life. Obstetrics is one such field which is concerned with pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum care. It expands from the period an embryo forms in the mother’s womb to the time the baby steps into the world. Gynecology, often used synonymously with Obstetrics, is similar but not entirely the same. While Obstetrics is all about childcare before birth, at birth, and after birth, gynecology is all about a woman’s health and hygiene. It includes physical, mental, reproductive and sexual health. Together they’re popularly known as OB/GYN.

Genetics, the study of the human genome or genes, has been a boon to the medical industry. It has helped in unraveling the causes of mysterious diseases and medical conditions. Its indispensable contribution is extended to obstetrics and gynecology as well. 

Genetics has benefitted obstetrics and gynecology in the following ways:

  • Understanding genetic disorders: A large number of physical and mental health conditions are now proven to have underlying genetic causes. Research has shown that diabetes – high sugar levels in the blood and Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) both have high surface probability when they run in the family. Life-threatening diseases such as cancers are also linked to having genetic causes. 

  • Understanding gene mutation: A genetic mutation is defined as a change in a gene which results in permanent differences in the entire species. They can be perplexing and almost every time remains unidentified. Genetic testing helps track gene mutations and ends the mystery. 

  • Detection of inborn errors: Sometimes a baby may be born with certain errors at birth. These are known as inborn errors. Before the advent of genetic testing, these conditions were known only at birth. But now, with genetic testing, these errors can be screened beforehand and proper treatment such as gene therapy can be done. 

  • Proper treatment: Certain diseases are caused by a single faulty gene. So genetic testing helps in diagnosing the faulty gene to prepare the at-risk couples about having a child with the said condition, employ proper therapeutic measure or treatments, and/or terminate the pregnancy. 

  • Unusual medical conditions: Genetic testing has greatly benefitted in identifying unusual disorders. These disorders are presented with vague and peculiar symptoms, often leaving the physicians perplexed. This is because they are caused by a faulty gene which can be diagnosed only through DNA testing. 

  • Ghost diseases: DNA analysis and gene therapy are also helpful in unraveling genetic diseases which were undiagnosed in the previous generations. The disorders were inherited and the people were affected but due since proper technology was absent, they could not be diagnosed.