UF Health Congenital Heart Center: Fetal Cardiac Program

We’re Having a Baby!

Couple with fetal cardiac physiciansPregnancy and parenthood are joyful occasions, and it’s only natural to wish for your baby to be healthy and normal. Most obstetricians and family doctors perform routine screenings on unborn babies to ensure everything is developing normally, including one or more ultrasounds.

Checking Your Baby’s Heart at Your Second Trimester Ultrasound

One common exam is the second trimester ultrasound, done midway through your pregnancy at around 18 weeks. Along with checking many other things during this screening, sonographers will get images and take measurements of your baby’s heart to make sure the chambers, valves and arteries are developing properly, and are in the correct position.

If any possible problems are detected with the baby’s heart, your next best step is to arrange to have a fetal echocardiogram. Fetal echocardiograms are highly specialized, detailed ultrasound tests to see pictures of your baby’s heart. They can be performed by a pediatric cardiologist or a maternal-fetal specialist, doctors who are specially trained to focus on performing, reading and evaluating fetal echocardiograms.

What if There’s a Problem with My Baby’s Heart?

A thorough fetal ultrasound, along with a fetal echocardiogram, can reveal CHDs, which are abnormalities with the structures of the heart and/or problems with its electrical impulses.

CHDs are the most common of all birth defects. They can range from “holes” in the heart to syndromes in which half the heart fails to develop completely. However, even today, most babies born with complex CHDs live well into adulthood. Early diagnosis and intervention is key to a long and healthy lifestyle.

Once a pediatric cardiologist has examined your unborn baby’s heart, he or she can provide you with a specific diagnosis and talk to you about your options, including delivering your baby at a hospital with high-risk obstetricians, a neonatal intensive care unit, as well as pediatric cardiology and heart surgery services.

The UF Health Congenital Heart Center and UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital offer these services. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the pediatric cardiology and heart surgery services among the top 50 in the nation.

For more information about our Fetal Cardiac Program at the UF Health Congenital Heart Center or to schedule a fetal echocardiogram, please contact the UF Fetal Cardiac Program at 352. 273.7700, and speak with Connie Nixon, RN, nurse clinical coordinator, or Bobby Ross, program assistant.

Our physicians and staff at the UF Health Congenital Heart Center's Fetal Cardiac Program: