Fetal and Maternal Medicine is a Sub-specialty Branch of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, which deals with “High Risk or Complicated Pregnancies”.
The concept of such a specialized maternity service is an essential component of healthcare throughout the developed world. However, a need to establish the scope of an organized service in this field in our city has been felt by many.
Fetal Medicine deals with the health & wellbeing of an unborn child inside mother’s uterus as a potential patient.
Up to 3-4 of every 100 babies are born with a major congenital abnormality. A larger number may be born with less severe congenital problems. Many of these abnormalities are associated with chromosomal or genetic problems, which may run in families. As the mother’s age of 1st pregnancy is increasing in our country, the incidence of chromosomal problems in the babies are on the rise (eg. Downs syndrome). Conditions like Thalesemia is a major health problem in our society with about 10000 thalasemic children are born every year.
As the families are getting more and more nuclear, society can least afford many sufferers of conditions like these.
With advances in medical science, it is possible to detect most of these conditions inside mother’s uterus. This is done by using advanced ultrasound techniques and / or taking out fetal cells from the pregnant mother’s uterus by a fetal medicine specialist. As the experience in developed countries showed, with a proper system of prenatal (before birth) diagnosis, it is possible to significantly reduce the incidence of these conditions to the benefit of the society.
Some of the congenital abnormalities are not compatible with life. Detecting them at a very early stage of life inside mother’s uterus enable parents to opt for termination of pregnancy which can prevent subsequent complication and mental trauma .On the other hand, many of the congenital conditions of the babies are amenable to life saving corrective treatment either inside the uterus or immediately after birth, if there is a diagnosis done early during the pregnancy.
Maternal Medicine deals with pregnancies affected with a serious disease of the mother. Common examples of such diseases are Diabetes, Heart disease, High Blood Pressure, Thyroid Problems and Kidney Problems in the mother among others. During the pregnancy, these conditions gets worse & cause serious problems both for mother and unborn baby, including maternal and fetal death. Then, there are certain conditions in mother, which can result in recurrent loss (Miscarriage) of pregnancy at an early stage or death of the child inside the uterus at a late stage.
With progress in maternal medicine, if these conditions are properly managed in a dedicated advanced set up during the pregnancy, involving multidisciplinary team with Maternal Medicine Specialists, Neonatologists, Intensive Care Specialists & Anasthetist among others, the outcome can be significantly better both for mother and baby in most of the cases.