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The multidisciplinary team at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital has expertise in the early diagnosis and management of fetal heart conditions, including congenital heart defects, heart muscle disease or infection, arrhythmias and other cardiac disorders. We specialize in prenatal diagnosis, using fetal echocardiography to examine the heart while the baby is still in the womb. We also offer counseling, support and resources to help expectant parents every step of the way.
As part of our comprehensive care for the whole family, our pediatric cardiologists work closely with University of Chicago Medicine obstetricians, neonatologists and experts in maternal-fetal medicine. If necessary, our collaborative surgical and interventional cardiology teams are prepared to operate on newborns within the first hours of life.
Fetal heart conditions often are first detected during a routine prenatal ultrasound. If an obstetrician notices an abnormality, he/she will refer you for a fetal echocardiogram — a more specialized noninvasive ultrasound, performed by a pediatric cardiologist — which uses sound waves to create a picture of the baby's heart. Your doctor may also recommend an echocardiogram if you have certain risk factors, including a family history of congenital heart disease, or concerns that your baby has other genetic disorders.
Early diagnosis of fetal cardiac conditions gives physicians and expectant parents more time to decide on the best treatment option. Our cardiologists meet regularly with other specialists to create an individualized care plan for each family. If treatment will be needed for the baby after birth, you and your family will have the opportunity to meet with interventional cardiologists, surgeons, or other members of the care team, before your child is born.