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Materno Fetal Medicine

What is it?

Perinatology and Maternal-fetal medicine is a branch of medicine that specifically manages the health concerns of both the mother and fetus before, during and after pregnancy. In cases where the pregnancy is considered to be high risk, special care and medical support are required in order for the pregnancy to go smoothly without major concerns.

What does it focus on?

This specialized branch focuses on the following aspects of pregnancy,

  • Early Diagnosis of Fetal Abnormalities
    Fetal abnormalities can be diagnosed with the help of an ultrasound. These structural abnormalities, which can be either major or minor, are noted in a developing fetus.

  • Screening for Chromosomal Defects
    The screening test is a procedure performed in the first trimester that combines the maternal blood-screening test with an ultrasound of the fetus to identify certain chromosomal defects such as Down syndrome, trisomy-21 and trisomy-18.

  • Development of Safer Techniques for Prenatal Diagnosis
    Prenatal diagnostic tests are only performed if there is a specific problem is seen in the result of a screening test, as they are more invasive. Safer technique for prenatal diagnosis is a non-invasive diagnosis that uses fetal cells from the maternal blood to analyze and diagnose genetic diseases and aneuploidy of the fetus.  

  • Intrauterine Fetal Surgery
    Surgery performed on the fetus before birth in case of medical emergencies such as a severe form of congenital diaphragmatic hernia that obstructs the development of lungs, to correct birth defects or to treat tumors that are life-threatening.

  • Prediction and Prevention Of Preeclampsia
    Preeclampsia is a condition that includes high blood pressure, urinary protein, and swelling. This syndrome is considered to be fatal to both the mother and the baby, if not treated.

  • Prediction and Prevention of Preterm Birth
    The measurement of the cervical length done on the second-trimester ultrasound helps to predict the risk of preterm birth. Certain women who are treated with a hormone called progesterone are said to prevented preterm births. Other factors include reducing stress and avoid smoking.

  • Prediction and Prevention of Stillbirth
    A blood test done in the early stage of pregnancy may help in predicting stillbirth. A dysfunctional placenta caused by low levels of certain protein in the early stage of pregnancy can be a cause for stillbirth. Other factors include the age of the mother, obesity, and smoking.

  • Prediction and Management of Fetal Growth Restriction
    The size and weight of the fetus can be noted using ultrasound and other diagnostic methods such as fetal monitoring, weight checks etc. If the result shows a delay in growth development, the growth of the fetus can be managed by taking certain steps, like,
    • Visiting the doctor routinely,
    • Being aware of the movement of the baby,
    • Checking all the medications taken,
    • Eating healthy food,
    • Proper rest,
    • Practicing a healthy lifestyle can help manage the growth of the fetus.

  • Problems of Multiple Pregnancies
    Multiple pregnancies that include carrying twins, triplets or quadruplets are common nowadays as more women use infertility treatments to increase the chance of giving multiple births. The side effects of these include premature labor, gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced high blood pressure.

Authored by Dr. Nirmal Krishnan

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