Of the approximately 4 million babies born in the United States each year, about 120,000 (3 percent) have a complex birth defect. Maternal-fetal specialists have long known that some birth defects could be successfully treated after birth. But as technology, fetal imaging and prenatal testing have improved in the past few decades, so too has our knowledge of fetal development.
Expanded diagnostic tools have allowed us to identify more precisely when conditions worsen during fetal development. This knowledge has helped us develop new ways to help babies sooner while in utero. Today, fetal therapy is recognized as one of the most promising fields in pediatric medicine, and prenatal surgery is becoming an option for a growing number of babies with birth defects.
Treating birth defects before birth
Fetal surgery allows us to intervene earlier. Using highly sophisticated surgical procedures, we are now able to treat certain disabling and life-threatening birth defects during fetal development instead of after birth, and to offer new hope to families.
Fetal surgery is a complex and challenging procedure, requiring the most expert, comprehensive care for both mother and unborn baby. Few medical teams have the skill and resources to perform such complex procedures, which can present significant risks for both mother and baby.
The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has been providing this care to patients since 1995, experience that helps us to deliver the best outcomes while minimizing the risks to both you and your baby. Be sure to ask these questions before you allow a clinical program to perform fetal surgery.