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Ask The Expert: Maternal Fetal Medicine

April 18, 2019

What is maternal-fetal medicine?

Kolawole “Yinka” Oyelese, MD

Maternal-fetal medicine is the specialty of medicine that deals with complicated pregnancy. Maternal-fetal medicine specialists are obstetrician-gynecologists who have undergone at least another three years of subspecialist training. As the name implies, they look after pregnant women and their unborn babies. In most circumstances, the maternal fetal medicine specialist cares for the pregnant woman in conjunction with the woman’s obstetrician.

Maternal-fetal medicine specialists identify which women and their unborn babies are at risk for complications and adverse pregnancy outcomes, and then take steps to prevent or treat these complications. Ideally, many of these risks can be identified before pregnancy.

Conditions that may require the expertise of a maternal-fetal medicine specialist include women with histories of pregnancy loss, stillbirth, miscarriage, or preterm birth. Women with diabetes, hypertension, family histories of genetic disorders, those with heart disease, kidney transplants, or infections such as HIV are among those who will also benefit from the care of a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. Older mothers are at risk for pregnancy complications, and these women should be evaluated by a maternal fetal medicine specialist.

A large part of maternal-fetal medicine involves ultrasound, allowing the specialist to examine and treat the unborn baby. New advances in genetics and imaging allow these physicians to identify and treat these conditions early. While most pregnancies end well, there is the potential for any pregnancy to result in life-threatening complications to both mothers and babies. The role of the maternal-fetal medicine specialist is to prevent these complications.

- Kolawole “Yinka” Oyelese, MD is Director of Atlantic Maternal-Fetal Medicine and a maternal fetal medicine specialist on-staff at Atlantic Health System’s Newton Medical Center

Source: New Jersey Herald