Your Child's Developing Heart
Every parent hopes their pregnancy will go as planned, without any problems. In most cases, they do. But there are times when even a developing baby needs uniquely specialized care. In these matters of the heart, the prenatal diagnostics team at AdventHealth for Children, formerly Florida Hospital for Children, can step in to investigate potential cardiovascular problems. Working closely with your obstetrician or perinatologist alongside AdventHealth for Children's pediatric cardiology team, our specialists can use the latest technological advances to take a close look at a child’s heart while they are still in the womb.
Getting Answers in Advance
- When is a fetal echocardiogram necessary?
Every pregnancy does not require an echocardiogram. Routine prenatal ultrasound tests women receive from their OB/GYN provide information about whether the chambers of the fetal heart are developing normally. Further testing, including fetal echocardiography, might be necessary if:
- A routine ultrasound shows abnormal development
- A sibling was born with a congenital heart defect
- There is a family history of congenital heart disease
- Another abnormality is discovered in the fetus
- A mother has taken certain medications, such as anti-seizure medications or prescription acne medications
- The mother has used alcohol or drugs during pregnancy
- The mother has diabetes, phenylketonuria, or a connective tissue disorder such as lupus
- The mother has had rubella during pregnancy
- What is fetal echocardiography?
Fetal echocardiography is a specialized ultrasound test performed during pregnancy by a pediatric cardiologist to evaluate the heart of the unborn baby. Like all ultrasounds, echocardiograms use sound waves to look at a fetus's developing heart. There is no radiation exposure and no known risk to the mother or baby.
Fetal echocardiography can help detect fetal heart abnormalities before birth. This makes it possible to prepare for medical or surgical intervention when the baby is born. Preparation improves the chance of a newborn's survival and lowers the rate of complications after delivery for babies with serious heart defects.
- How is a prenatal echocardiogram performed?
Prenatal diagnostics are performed by a pediatric cardiologist who is specially trained in the field. The test is painless and normally takes less than an hour. As in a routine ultrasound, gel is applied to the mother's abdomen and the ultrasound transducer obtains images of the structures of the fetal heart. Techniques sometimes used to obtain detailed information about the fetal heart.
- What if the test shows a heart defect?
Once the diagnosis is made, members of the prenatal diagnostics team at AdventHealth for Children, formerly Florida Hospital for Children, will meet with you to discuss their findings and explore options for treatment, which can include non-surgical and surgical interventions.
If needed, a pediatric heart surgeon or high-risk obstetrician working closely with our team will be brought into the case to meet with you as well and discuss options, including treating the condition while your baby is still in the womb.
Best Possible Outcome
We believe that knowing about a heart defect or other problem prior to delivery can give the family a chance to make informed choices about treatment and feel confident and prepared.
At AdventHealth for Children, our goal throughout is to give the family the most accurate information, supported by the most advanced treatments and therapies available, so your child can enjoy optimal health and wellness, before, during and after delivery.