“Fetal medicine is the frontier of pediatric medicine,” said Kurt D. Newman, MD, president and CEO of Children’s National, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Fetal Medicine Institute
on May 12. The state-of-the-art, 3,400-foot space, located on Children’s National’s main campus, supports children by caring for high-risk expectant mothers and babies before they are even born. Through advanced fetal diagnostic techniques, doctors work to intervene early and prevent the development of common debilitating health problems that can span a lifetime, such as heart defects, diabetes, stroke, hypertension, and a range of neurodevelopmental conditions.Adre J. du Plessis, MBChB, MPH, division chief of Fetal and Transitional Medicine and director of the Fetal Medicine Institute, said, “We feel that the main challenge for fetal medicine, in general, remains diagnostic. Being able to detect a fetus that is not thriving is still difficult. Our long-term goal is to intervene before fetuses become harmed by an adverse intrauterine environment.”Many donors helped make the Institute possible, including Daniel Tasse’, CEO of Ikaria, Inc., and sisters Natalia Luis and Cidalia Luis-Akbar. Dedicated to improving fragile babies’ lives, Natalia and Cidalia are training to climb the 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro to raise technology and research funds and greater awareness about the promise of fetal medicine to dramatically improve the health and quality of life of children.The Fetal Medicine Institute enables Children’s National to serve more families facing a high-risk pregnancy and ensures continuity of care from a diagnosis confirmation into postnatal life. With a strong emphasis on telemedicine and video conferencing, the Institute can easily connect referring physicians in patient consults with its fetal team.