LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – In the world of medicine, time can be the difference between life and death whether it’s getting to the hospital or catching a disease early. Doctors at Baptist Health in Little Rock are encouraging more patients to take advantage of testing that can detect certain health conditions creating a better quality of life.

In a lab at Baptist Health in Little Rock, doctors can get a glimpse into a patient’s future with just the prick of a needle. Doctor Brian Burton is an OB/GYN at Baptist and said genetic testing can detect everything from health issues patients are more susceptible to like cancer.

“If it says you have a problem if you have a genetic mutation knowing what that is, how that’s going to affect you and what your long-term outcomes are because of that and it makes a difference,” Dr. Burton said. “It makes a real difference in people’s lives.”

It also can test a patient’s child for certain health conditions before they are ever born.

“If you were to find out your child has downs syndrome you would absolutely want to know other people who’ve gone through it and talk to people and just have a support group around you because there are some challenges,” Dr. Burton said.

Baptist Health Nurse Hannah Berry said it all starts with a simple screening.

“There are lots of diseases that are passed from family member to family member and so we really like to screen for those early to prevent long-term problems,” Berry said.

She said it’s important to know that family history before ever coming into the doctor’s office.

“We look at parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles,” Berry said.

From there, they will decide whether patients qualify for genetic testing all to help create a plan not only for their lives but for their families too.

“That way it’s not just this whirlwind of chaos and fear,” Dr. Burton said. “You at least have some comfort to know what you’re getting into.”

If you’re interested in genetic testing, you can talk to your primary caregiver. Many times, it is covered by insurance but be sure to check with your doctor. It takes about two weeks to get results.