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Fetal Medicine

Improving Care for the Smallest Patients

Anticipating issues before a child is born can make all the difference – now and for decades to come.

Each year, millions of babies are born with life-threatening birth defects. Many more are stillborn. While these conditions have been largely accepted for thousands of years, we are now learning that with comprehensive fetal care, they may be prevented. Children’s National is at the forefront of a movement to anticipate such issues and help families avoid the physical, emotional and financial trauma associated with them.

Through the Fetal Medicine Institute at Children’s National, our physicians, geneticists, and counselors work with families whose unborn babies have known or suspected medical conditions. They team up with referring obstetricians and maternal-fetal medicine specialists to develop a plan for pregnancy, delivery, and the postnatal period.

Early in a pregnancy, our specialists can help diagnose developmental disorders in unborn babies. By doing so, they can intervene and prevent issues such as heart defects, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and a host of neurodevelopmental conditions. Sometimes these interventions take place remotely through telemedicine and video conferencing. Our Advanced Pediatric Brain Imaging Research Laboratory helps evaluate fetal brain development. If needed, they can assist with complicated deliveries and provide the necessary specialized care after birth.

To provide the specialized care that fragile newborns need, Children’s National has a nationally recognized neonatal intensive care unit  with more than 100 beds -- the only one in the region to be designated a Level IV unit.  The medical center also has the largest cardiac intensive care unit in the area. Providing this extensive care not only protects the lives of these vulnerable babies, but also gives them a chance to live long and healthy lives free of the lingering effects often associated with birth defects.

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