Today, many heart problems can be detected while a baby is still growing and developing inside the womb. If a problem is detected during a routine ultrasound screening, an obstetrician (OB) can refer the patient to Children's Heart Center specialists for a complete fetal cardiac evaluation.
At our clinic, each expectant mother will receive an extensive evaluation based on family history and the results from an ultrasound of the fetus's heart called a fetal echocardiogram.
If a fetal diagnosis is made, we counsel the family on the options available to address their baby's heart problem. We also can coordinate prenatal care from that point on, working closely with the OB and the hospital where the birth is planned.
The doctors in our Fetal Heart Program follow babies with heart conditions from diagnosis through delivery to ensure they receive the best treatment possible.
We develop a treatment plan for the baby during the pregnancy, and have both a prenatal and postnatal team, covering every aspect of the baby's needs. Families often meet with cardiac surgeons to clarify newborn plans.
Our prenatal team includes a perinatologist (high-risk obstetrician), pediatric cardiologist, neonatologist (doctor specializing in newborns), pediatric cardiac surgeon, genetics counselor and social worker. This team works closely with perinatologists at the University of Washington Medical Center. Our postnatal team includes surgeons, anesthesiologists, other doctors and the transport team, who coordinate with other hospitals to make sure transportation is arranged after birth, if needed.
The clinic also provides genetics counseling, providing a family with information on what role genetics might play in the baby's heart condition.