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Fetal Heart Disease

Fetal Congenital Heart Disease & Fetal Heart Specialists

Learning your unborn baby has a heart condition can be overwhelming – but our fetal heart specialists at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital are here to help ease your anxiety. Working together with your maternal fetal medicine specialist, our goal is to provide the most advanced heart care for you and your baby. We work alongside you and your family to plan that care before, during and after delivery to support you at every point along the way. Our team of pediatric cardiologists will monitor the progress of your child’s fetal heart disease and coordinate treatment plans for delivery and after your baby is born. We also provide family education and a wealth of social and psychological support throughout your pregnancy to help give you peace of mind.

Early Detection of Fetal Heart Defects

Fetal Heart Disease

Your baby’s heart is one of the first organs to develop as it is necessary to support growth and development. Abnormalities or issues that occur during the development of the heart often affect the way the rest of the heart develops and functions, but also how blood is delivered to baby’s body. The first indication of a heart issue may be noticed during a routine obstetrical ultrasound. If your obstetrician suspects there may be a fetal heart abnormality, they generally refer you for a consult with our fetal cardiac specialists who will then order more focused pictures or images of your baby’s heart, otherwise known as a fetal echocardiogram.

Early detection of these fetal heart defects, and earlier medical or surgical intervention, is often critical to the health of your newborn. In many cases, heart defects can be diagnosed between 18 and 22 weeks gestation prior to birth during the fetal echocardiogram.

The goal of a fetal echocardiogram is to detect any issues with your unborn baby’s heart as early as possible, so that interventions, planning and support can be arranged. Once our pediatric cardiologists identify the specific fetal heart conditions, we work closely alongside you and your obstetrics team to monitor the health of you and your baby, ensuring safety and world-class care throughout your pregnancy.

Only Program in NE Ohio to Offer Early Fetal Echocardiograms

The Congenital Heart Collaborative at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital is the only program in Northeast Ohio to offer early fetal echocardiograms at 12-16 weeks of pregnancy. Available at convenient locations, your obstetrician may refer you to our program for one of these specialized tests if you have a history of :

  • An abnormal finding on your routine obstetrical ultrasound
  • A family member born with a heart defect
  • Assisted reproduction
  • An abnormal genetic screening
  • The presence of a chronic condition like hypertension, lupus or diabetes or obesity

Our dedicated team of fetal sonographers (specially trained ultrasound imaging technicians) have the skill necessary to perform fetal diagnostic ultrasounds and determine any issues. If a fetal heart defect is identified, our team will help you maneuver through the progression of the defect, and may even recommend an intervention to treat the condition and potentially halt its progression. The fetal team is also very involved in helping you coordinate plans for delivery and after your baby is born.

Ohio’s First in Fetal Cardiac Intervention Expertise

The Congenital Heart Collaborative is the first cardiac program in Ohio, and one of the few programs throughout the United States that offers fetal cardiac intervention. This extremely unique program brings together physicians, nurses and nurse practitioners from UH Macdonald Women’s Hospital, UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and Nationwide Children’s Hospital to care for you and your baby. This unique procedure is performed while the baby is still in the mother’s womb in the hope it can halt further development of the disorder and provide the best result for your fetus.

Maternal-Fetal Bonding a Priority at University Hospitals

Our close proximity to labor & delivery suites at University Hospitals MacDonald Women’s Hospital allows mothers to deliver just steps away from where their baby will be cared for after delivery. Our family-centered care approach generally allows for maternal-fetal bonding time prior to cardiac intervention as research indicates the first hours are vital to mother/infant interactions. In addition, parents can stay by their child’s side in the same room during their entire hospital stay.

Another service of our fetal cardiac specialists is they work with you and your obstetrician to help determine the best place for you to deliver. If your baby has a low-risk heart defect, you can deliver at the majority of UH medical centers or another hospital location and follow up can be arranged for you and your baby after delivery.

Learn More about Fetal Heart Disease Expertise

For more information about our fetal heart disease expertise, or to learn more about our fetal heart condition services, please call 216-844-3528.