A fetal anomaly is structural birth defect is seen on an ultrasound. Examples include fetal heart defects, brain abnormalities and dwarfism. Some fetal anomalies are more severe, while others are relatively mild. They can happen in a group, or there can be just one anomaly. When there are multiple fetal anomalies, there’s a higher chance the baby has a genetic condition that affects a baby’s development, both physically and mentally.
If a fetal anomaly is found during an ultrasound, you’ll be offered the following to help gather information and manage your pregnancy:
• Genetic counseling. Genetic counselors will work in conjunction with your maternal fetal medicine physician to review your specific fetal anomaly to provide odds and to determine if prenatal testing is available.
• Genetic testing. Genetic testing during pregnancy is always optional. If a fetal anomaly is seen, diagnostic procedures such as CVS and amniocentesis are offered, if possible.
• Maternal Fetal Medicine physician consultation. Babies with anomalies need extra monitoring before delivery. At times, there may also be an increased risk for you. Maternal and fetal medicine physicians can make recommendations on how to best care for you and your baby.
• Pediatric specialty consultation and care conference. Babies with a birth defect will need extra care at delivery and shortly thereafter. Parents like to know what to expect before their baby is born. Our clinic provides a place for patients to meet with both the MFM doctor and pediatric specialists in one place. For example, if a baby has a heart defect, fetal echocardiogram and consultation with a pediatric cardiology are set up. Care conference is a meeting that pulls together all specialists to ensure that there is a clear plan in place during pregnancy, at delivery and once your baby is born.
• Social work. If you’re feeling understandably overwhelmed with having a high-risk pregnancy, you can meet with a social worker to discuss ways of support and coping. In addition, if you’re traveling from a distance, a social worker can help with accommodations.