The Fetal Care Center brings together a team of leading experts in maternal-fetal medicine, neonatology, genetics, pediatric surgery, and an array of other top-ranked pediatric specialties. This network of excellence from throughout our health system comes together to provide an elite level of care. Together, a comprehensive care plan is devised for pregnant patients and their developing babies who require specialized medical and surgical care while in the womb or expected interventions after birth. Our expert physicians and surgeons have ensured successful births for thousands of babies who needed specialized care.
As leaders in complex in-utero surgery, we are proud to be the first in Connecticut and the region to perform in utero myelomeningocele repair. Myelomeningocele is a condition in which the baby’s backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth. The condition, a type of spina bifida, is a congenital defect of the spine and spinal cord. The surgery is performed before the baby is born (prior to 26 weeks gestation) as this provides the best outcomes.
Yale New Haven Health is one of only a few hospitals in the country to offer couplet care, where mothers and their babies are cared for together in the same room
Many procedures available to women with high-risk pregnancies were first developed at Yale School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, including noninvasive fetal anemia assessment, percutaneous umbilical blood sampling (PUBS), in utero fetal blood transfusion, and therapies such as fetoscopy and fetal surgery
Physicians are leading researchers in the field of fetal medicine
A fetal therapy coordinator is available to help patients through the process. The coordinator is there throughout the patient’s care journey, from pregnancy through delivery, and often beyond. They guide patients through testing, meeting with specialists, scheduling appointments, and coordinating the elements of the care plan based on the patient’s needs.
Genetic counseling and prenatal testing are among the most valuable tools to help prospective parents make important decisions regarding a current or future pregnancy. Many things are taken into consideration including family medical history, blood test results, ultrasound measurements, age, and ethnicity, to name a few. Our board-certified genetic counselors help families understand their test results and the impact on their current or future pregnancies. They also provide education on which tests are available and explain the results. If there is a detection of a structural abnormality or concerns about a genetic syndrome, the genetic counselor will ensure the family understands the potential prognosis and provide counseling based on the family’s preferences.
Some of the advanced testing options include:
Chorionic villus sampling (CVS)
Karyotype analysis (chromosomal analysis)
Whole exome sequencing
Specific gene testing
Neonatologists are pediatricians with advanced training and expertise in the care of sick newborns and play an integral role on the Fetal Care Center medical team. They offer comprehensive consultations following diagnoses and assist the family in establishing an individualized care plan for their newborn. We recommend infants requiring special medical attention be delivered at Yale New Haven Hospital to facilitate immediate access to Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), one of the most advanced in the country. Neonatologists oversee the care of all patients in the NICU, in coordination with a full range of pediatric subspecialists.
As part of the Fetal Care Center, fetal cardiologists care for babies in the womb who may be at risk for or are affected by congenital heart disease or abnormal heart rhythms. They collaborate with a multidisciplinary team at the Fetal Care Center, including physicians from maternal-fetal medicine, neonatology, and pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, as well as social work and genetic counselors. This special team will help identify causes and customize treatment options. Learn more about our fetal cardiology services including fetal echocardiograms.
In the event a developing baby requires surgery to treat a condition, either while in the womb or after birth, families can rest assured knowing that they’ll receive the greatest of care. Our expert surgical team is made up of a renowned fetal surgery team and pediatric specialists in cardiology, craniofacial and plastic surgery, gynecology, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, orthopedics, otolaryngology, pediatric general surgery, transplantation, and urology. Additional members of the team include anesthesiology, advanced practice providers, nurses, social workers, nutritionists, and child life specialists. Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital is the only hospital in Connecticut offering in utero fetal surgery.
Perinatal Palliative Care
At times, pregnancy may result in a life-limiting condition or families are confronted with the difficult decision to end the pregnancy. Our Perinatal Palliative Care program is here to support families through these challenging times. Our compassionate team works with pregnant patients and their families to develop a culturally sensitive and individualized care plan that respects the wishes of the family. Families receive palliative care beginning with the medical diagnosis, throughout and following pregnancy. Learn more about our Perinatal Palliative Care program.