Perinatal Genetics and Genomics Service

Introduction to the Perinatal Genetics and Genomics Service 

Welcome to the Perinatal Genetics and Genomics Service which was introduced at The National Maternity Hospital (NMH) in August 2021 and is led by Dr Sam Doyle, Consultant Clinical and Biochemical Geneticist with specialist expertise in reproductive genomics. The NMH is currently the only hospital in Ireland to offer this service. 

The Perinatal Genetics and Genomics Service diagnoses rare genetic conditions in babies before birth by using cutting-edge technology. Before the service began, patients described a diagnostic odyssey, which sometimes went on for years. In that time, in order to make a diagnosis, additional hospital appointments and investigations were required. Early diagnosis with the Perinatal Genetics and Genomics Service at NMH means that patient centred treatment begins at birth.  

The service is completely integrated into the hospital with the geneticist attending ultrasound scans in the Fetal Assessment Unit as well as collaborating with the hospital's pathologists, gynaecologists and neonatologists as required. Once DNA is available, we can perform investigations including analysis of your baby's chromosomes and the new cutting-edge exome sequencing to review your baby's genes. Pre and post-test counselling, delivered by a member of the perinatal genomics team, is central to service delivery and all patients are supported to make decisions that are right for them, armed with the most up-to-date information.

Fetal DNA can be accessed through invasive methods along with non-invasive methods. The team will guide you regarding the appropriate next steps in your case. This is discussed in more detail later on this webpage.

The Service helps people who have a risk of having a baby affected by a genetic condition, or have signs and symptoms identified on scan which may be caused by an underlying genetic condition. We also help couples who have lost a baby to find a diagnosis, which informs the risk of recurrence.

The Service supports other specialist clinics at The NMH including The TLC Clinic, The Complex Menopause Clinic and the Adolescent Gynaecology Clinic.

Who is the Service for?

The Perinatal Genetics and Genomics Service is for women who:

  • Receive the news that their baby has abnormalities on scan (Fetal Assessment Unit  referral).
  • Are at risk of their baby inheriting a genetic condition.
  • Have a genetic condition and are attending the Maternal Medicine Clinic at The NMH.
  • Lose a baby in pregnancy.
  • Suffer recurrent pregnancy losses. 
  • Women with premature ovarian insufficiency attending The NMH Complex Menopause Clinic.
  • Women attending the NMH Adolescent Gynaecology Clinic.

Referral Pathway

The Service accepts referrals from the following avenues:

  • The Fetal Assessment Unit (FAU) at The NMH and other Fetal Assessment units nationwide.
  • The Adolescent Gynaecology Clinic at The NMH.
  • The Complex Menopause Clinic at The NMH.
  • The Antenatal Clinic at The NMH.
  • The Maternal Medicine Clinic at The NMH.
  • GPs in The NMH Catchment area.
  • Self-referrals for patients attending The NMH for their pregnancy where there is a known genetic condition in a family.

Please email for a referral form. All referrals are triaged by Dr Sam Doyle, Clinical Lead of the service. The clinical genetics team will be in contact with you to organise an appointment. Referrals from the NMH Fetal Assessment Unit will be contacted with 24 hours to plan an appointment. Other referrals are added to the waiting list. 

Your appointment at the Perinatal Genetics and Genomics Service at The NMH

We recommend bringing a support person to your first consultation, not only for support, but also to help with processing what can be difficult and complex information. Your first appointment can take at least one hour.

Depending on the reason for your referral, we may discuss:

  • Your Family History and draw a Family Tree*.
  • Genetic testing and how the testing will take place.
  • A diagnosis, cause and treatment of genetic disorders. Sometimes the clinical geneticist will need to examine you.
  • How likely the genetic condition is to happen in a family.
  • The choices other family members have as a result of a new genetic diagnosis.
  • Options regarding reproduction and pregnancy.

We aim to give you the most up-to-date information, which may help you make decisions, but we will not tell you what to do. Those decisions need to be made by you. The team will be happy to meet again to discuss any concerns and questions you may have. Please call 086 108 3086  (8am - 4pm Mon-Fri) to arrange an appointment.

If you need an interpreter for your appointment, please let us know. We are happy to arrange this for you.

*To draw a family tree, we may ask you about:

  • Full names (including maiden names) of family members.
  • Dates of birth (if possible).
  • Information about pregnancies and health problems in the family.

Will I need any tests?

Sometimes, after assessing your case, the clinical geneticist or genetic counsellor may decide that testing should be considered.

In pregnancy, testing your baby can take place in a number of ways:

  • A blood sample from you and testing of your baby’s DNA which is extracted from your blood. This is possible in specific circumstances only and is called non-invasive prenatal diagnosis (NIPD). This test can be performed from 9 weeks gestation.
  • A Chorionic Villus Sample (CVS) is taken and your babies DNA is extracted. The Fetal Medicine team will talk you through this procedure.
  • An amniotic fluid sample is taken and your babies DNA is extracted. The Fetal Medicine team will talk you through this procedure. Sometimes we will take a blood sample from you, your partner or other family members. We can extract your DNA from your blood.

Sometimes other tests are required. We will discuss this with you and obtain your consent for investigations. 

Testing generally takes place in very expert laboratories in the UK, Europe or North America. Genetic testing is very complex and can take a long time. Some tests, performed outside pregnancy can take up to 12 months. In general, we aim to have results back quickly in pregnancy, some tests can be back within a week while others may take 3-4 weeks. This can be a very worrying time and unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to speed this up. If you would like additional support, we can refer you to a counsellor.

There are situations where we cannot offer genetic testing as we don’t know enough about certain conditions yet.

What happens next?

After the appointment, the clinical geneticist or genetic counsellor will usually write to you summarising the information you have been given. You may also be sent an information leaflet.

Usually a couple of appointments are needed. Sometimes we may arrange to meet with you again in the future if we have more information to discuss with you.

If you are planning another pregnancy, we will be happy to see you again and we may advise you to make contact with us early in pregnancy to discuss your care.

Sometimes we may recommend referral to other services. We will discuss this with you.

We will write to the other health care professionals involved in your care, with your permission.

Contact Details

Phone: 01 637 3100

Mobile: 086 108 3086 (8am – 4pm Mon – Fri)


Private consultation: 087 435 2899

What happens to my information?

Your information is securely stored at The National Maternity Hospital. Your information may need to be shared with other health care professional involved in your care. We will discuss this at your appointment. Some of your information may be used for clinical audit and for educating staff. This is anonymised. Sometimes we may discuss research opportunities with you. All of this ensures quality of patient care is sustained and improved.

If you would like to find out more about how your information is used please refer to

Dr Sam Doyle, Clinical Lead for the Department of Perinatal Genetics and Genomics at The National Maternity Hospital.

Dr Doyle is a graduate of UCD and has completed an MD at UCD, a Masters in Leadership at RCSI and a Masters in Genomics at the University of Birmingham. Dr Doyle completed her postgraduate clinical genetics training at the RCPI. Dr Doyle took up a permanent consultant appointment at The Birmingham Women’s Hospital, where she was instrumental in developing and delivering the prenatal exome sequencing service across the Westmidland’s. Dr Doyle returned to Ireland in August 2021 to develop the Perinatal Genetics and Genomics service at The National Maternity Hospital. The service cares for women from all over Ireland. The service has grown and now has an Aspire Fellow funded by the RCPI, a full-time Principal Genetic Counsellor and a full-time administrator. Dr Doyle supervises students taking the Masters in Ethics at RCSI and regularly contributes to undergraduate and postgraduate education on Clinical Genetics in Ireland and the UK. Dr Doyle is a board member of the Postgraduate Certificate in Cancer Genetics & Genomics at RCPI. Dr Doyle is also a board member of the Fetal Genomics Group (UK) and a member of the international fetal sequencing consortium. Dr Doyle curates the fetal exome sequencing panel with a group of prenatal Genetics experts in the UK

Sinead Whyte, Principal Genetic Counsellor, Department of Perinatal Genetics and Genomics at The National Maternity Hospital.

Sinead completed her BSc in Anatomy and Physiology (Science) at the National University of Ireland, Galway before graduating from her MSc in Genetic Counselling in Cardiff University in 2013. She previously worked as a Genetic Counsellor in the All Wales Medical Genetics Service in Cardiff and the North Thames Regional Genetics Service before taking up post as a Principal Genetic Counsellor in Great Ormond Street Hospital, leading the prenatal, neurodegenerative disorders and cancer genetic counselling teams. From 2019 she has been a member of the Advisory Committee for the NIHR funded study evaluating the UK NHS Genomic Medicine implementation and delivery. She is the Devolved Nations and Republic of Ireland representative in the Association of Genetics Nurses and Counsellors Committee, which is the professional body for Genetic Counsellors. She is an Assessor and sign off mentor for Genetic Counsellors registering with the Academy of Healthcare Scientists (AHCS).