Fetal Heart Program
Expert Care Before and After Birth for Babies with Congenital Heart Defects
The Fetal Heart Program at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital provides compassionate, state-of-the-art care for babies who are diagnosed with a congenital heart condition before birth. Our goal is to provide comprehensive care for both mother and fetus, from initial diagnosis through the entire pregnancy and beyond.
As part of the Congenital Heart Collaborative with Nationwide Children’s Hospital, our expert team cares for your baby before birth and throughout his life, with one primary pediatric cardiologist managing each child’s treatment. We also collaborate closely with the maternal fetal medicine experts at University Hospitals MacDonald Women’s Hospital, which is located under the same roof as UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital.
Congenital Heart Defects
Congenital heart defects are abnormalities within the heart that occur before birth. Some defects can affect the way the heart functions as well as how blood is delivered to the rest of the body. In many cases, congenital heart defects can be diagnosed before birth during a fetal echocardiogram, or a special type of ultrasound to look at the baby’s developing heart.
We have an entire team dedicated to diagnosing and caring for babies with congenital heart disease. This team works together to make individualized care plans with the goal of providing superior outcomes, even in the most complex cases.
This team includes:
- Pediatric cardiologists
- Pediatric interventional cardiologists
- Fetal sonographers
- Maternal fetal medicine specialists
- Genetic counselors
- Nurse practitioners
- Fetal care patient navigators
- Social workers
- Cardiothoracic intensive care team
Early Fetal Echocardiograms
If there are indications, such as a family member with congenital heart disease, an abnormal finding on an ultrasound, or an abnormal genetic screening, your obstetrician may refer you to the Fetal Heart Program for an echocardiogram. We have a dedicated team of highly trained fetal echocardiography technicians and are the only program in Northeast Ohio to offer early fetal echocardiograms (12-16 weeks of pregnancy). If a heart defect is identified, our team will be able to monitor the progression of the defect, potentially intervene to treat the defect, and coordinate plans for delivery and after birth.
Fetal Cardiac Intervention
In some cases, our expert team can treat your baby’s heart defect before birth. Fetal cardiac intervention is a complex procedure performed at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in collaboration with Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. This therapy can help lessen the severity or slow the progression of a heart condition. This may lead to fewer complications at birth and better short- and long-term outcomes for your child.
Our dedicated fetal cardiac intervention team can treat conditions such as:
- Aortic stenosis with evolving hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS)
- Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) with intact or highly restrictive atrial septum
- Pulmonary atresia with intact ventricular septum
Fetal Arrhythmia Team
The Fetal Heart Program provides a team approach to diagnosing, treating and monitoring fetal arrhythmias, which are fairly common occurrences during pregnancy. The team consists of fetal pediatric cardiologists, pediatric and adult electrophysiologists, maternal fetal medicine specialists and a dedicated nurse practitioner. A fetal arrhythmia can be treated using medications safely administered to the fetus by giving the medication to the expectant mother. Our team will continue to monitor both mother and baby throughout the pregnancy.
Expert Care Before and After Birth
Our close proximity to UH MacDonald Women’s Hospital allows for mothers to deliver their babies just steps away from where their babies will be cared for after birth. Babies with low-risk heart defects can be delivered at another hospital location if the mother desires, but will be monitored throughout the pregnancy by our fetal heart team.
Our dedicated cardiothoracic intensive care and pediatric cardiac step down units care for all babies born with heart disease. Our family-centered care approach means that parents can stay by their child’s side in the same room, during their entire hospital stay.