Congenital heart defects (CHDs) are malformations of the heart that are present at birth and can affect the function of the baby’s heart. Fortunately, many CHDs can be found during pregnancy, allowing you to plan your baby's heart care before delivery and know what your baby will need after he or she is born. At NewYork-Presbyterian, fetal cardiology experts provide advanced prenatal diagnosis and fetal therapy for babies at risk for heart problems. If a heart defect is found, we customize a plan of care to maximize the best possible outcomes for you and your baby.
About Our Program
NewYork-Presbyterian’s fetal cardiology programs, operating at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital, are renowned for the expert performance of fetal echocardiography and other advanced imaging modalities to diagnose newborns at risk for heart defects including CHDs, fetal arrhythmias, and maternal or other fetal medical conditions that may affect the fetal heart.
Our fetal cardiologists closely collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of maternal-fetal medicine (high-risk pregnancy), cardiac surgery, genetic and other sub-specialists at the Carmen and John Thain Center for Prenatal Pediatrics at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and the Fetal Care Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital to provide the most comprehensive and compassionate care for children diagnosed with congenital heart disease before birth. We provide care for both mother and baby from the time of prenatal diagnosis through birth and beyond.
Our fetal cardiology program lives within the NewYork-Presbyterian Congenital Heart Center, one of the largest and most preeminent pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery centers in the nation. Patients come from all over the world for the most advanced treatments for congenital heart disease.
Conditions We Care For
We care for all types of fetal heart conditions, including CHDs, abnormal heart rhythms, or issues arising from complicated identical twin pregnancies or other fetal anomalies. Some fetal heart conditions found during pregnancy include (but are not limited to):
- Arch hypoplasia
- Atrial septal defect
- Atrioventricular septal defect
- Coarctation of the aorta
- Ebstein’s anomaly
- Hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS)
- Pulmonic stenosis
- Tetralogy of Fallot
- Total anomalous pulmonary venous return
- Truncus arteriosus
- Transposition of the great arteries
- Ventricular septal defect
Reasons for a Referral to Fetal Cardiology
There are several reasons why you may be referred to our fetal cardiology program:
- An ultrasound has revealed an issue with your baby’s heart
- Your baby has a known or suspected genetic/chromosomal abnormality
- You have a multiple pregnancy
- You have a family history of congenital heart disease
- You have a health condition, such as diabetes, that may influence your baby’s heart
- You have undergone assisted reproduction, which increases your baby’s risk for a CHD
Our Approach to Care
Early intervention to maximize outcomes
When a heart defect in your baby is suspected during pregnancy, we bring together a team of high-risk obstetricians, neonatologists, interventional cardiologists, fetal cardiology specialists, pediatric congenital heart surgeons, and other cardiac specialists. Working jointly with our colleagues in maternal-fetal medicine, we precisely diagnose the heart defect and develop a plan with you for the remainder of your pregnancy and delivery. For some patients, this may involve close surveillance, medical therapy, surgery, or catheter-based intervention during pregnancy.
Fetal cardiac therapy
If fetal therapy is possible, our pediatric cardiologists collaborate with maternal-fetal medicine specialists to maximize our ability to improve the health of the baby while avoiding complications in the mother. Our teams coordinate consultations with the pediatric subspecialists your baby may need.
Continuity of care
Our fetal cardiology program provides care for both mother and baby from the time of prenatal diagnosis through birth and beyond.
Services We Offer
Advanced Fetal Echocardiography
Your doctor may refer you for fetal echocardiography if:
- There is a family history of congenital heart disease.
- You have taken certain medications that could cause congenital heart disease.
- Your fetus has a genetic abnormality.
- You have consumed alcohol or used drugs during pregnancy.
- You have diabetes, phenylketonuria, or a connective tissue disease, or you had rubella (German measles) during the pregnancy.
The optimal time for a fetal echocardiograph is between the 19th and 24th week of pregnancy. It can be performed earlier, as early as 11-12 weeks, for pregnancies at higher risk of congenital heart disease or cardiac anomalies for example in the presence of a family history or when a genetic disorder is suspected early in the pregnancy. A pediatric cardiologist interprets the ultrasound and explains the results immediately after the test. Early fetal echocardiograms (11-14 weeks) are coordinated with our maternal-fetal medicine colleagues.
Multidisciplinary Care for Mother and Baby
If a heart defect is found on fetal echocardiography, our pediatric cardiologists will coordinate your baby’s care with pediatric heart surgeons, neonatologists and other pediatric heart experts. From the moment of diagnosis until your baby's birth, you and your family receive extensive counseling so you understand each step of the treatment process. In addition, specialists in maternal-fetal medicine, neonatology, cardiology, and pediatric heart surgery meet weekly to review patients who are expected to deliver babies with congenital heart problems within the next few months to ensure that everyone is prepared for your child's birth and is aware of the details of the treatment.
Why Choose Us
Nationally Ranked in Pediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery
U.S. News & World Report has ranked NewYork-Presbyterian among the top pediatric cardiology and heart surgery programs in the country, reflecting our reputation and excellent outcomes, the expertise of our pediatric heart care teams, our high volume of cases, and other data related to patient care.
Exceptional Programs for Fetal Echocardiography
The NewYork-Presbyterian pediatric centers of NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital are distinguished for the expert performance of fetal echocardiography to diagnose congenital heart disease during pregnancy. We offer state-of-the-art fetal echocardiography, enabling us to see and monitor your baby's heart with precision.
- NewYork Presbyterian is nationally accredited by the Intersocietal Commission for the Accreditation of Echocardiography Laboratories (ICAEL) for providing exceptional fetal and transthoracic echocardiography according to national standards.
Expertise in Maternal-Fetal Medicine
The maternal-fetal medicine programs at the Carmen and John Thain Center for Prenatal Pediatrics at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and the Fetal Care Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital are among the largest and most experienced programs in the country. Headed by academic leaders from Columbia and Weill Cornell Medicine with advanced knowledge in pregnancy complications, these experts collaborate with colleagues in neonatology, pediatrics, cardiology, anesthesiology, and surgery to provide care tailored to your individualized needs.
Early Collaboration with Cardiac Subspecialists
The relationship of NewYork-Presbyterian’s pediatric cardiology and cardiac surgery divisions begins prior to birth, when a mother is first diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy due to fetal congenital heart disease. Consultations with one of our fetal cardiologists, cardiothoracic surgeons, and/or interventional cardiologists are provided in conjunction with expert maternal-fetal medicine specialists. This continuity of care is maintained throughout the pregnancy and postnatal care.
Innovators in Fetal Interventional Cardiology
The Carmen and John Thain Center for Prenatal Pediatrics at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital was the first in New York State to develop a program in fetal cardiac intervention – an approach that makes it possible to change how the heart develops in utero and alter the natural course of certain cardiac lesions.
- The Center’s multidisciplinary team works closely with other pediatric cardiac specialists to address severe aortic stenosis and evolving hypoplastic left heart syndrome, pulmonary stenosis or atresia and evolving hypoplastic right heart syndrome, and hypoplastic left heart syndrome with an intact atrial septum.
- Although additional cardiac procedures will most likely be needed after delivery, the in-utero intervention may improve circulation making it possible to perform an interventional procedure rather than surgery
Superior Outcomes in Pediatric Cardiac Surgery
At NewYork-Presbyterian, our littlest patients receive expert care from cardiac surgeons who are extraordinarily skilled at repairing a range of complex CHD abnormalities including transposition of the great arteries, hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), tetralogy of Fallot, total anomalous pulmonary venous connection, and truncus arteriosus.
- NewYork-Presbyterian pediatric heart surgeons pioneered the innovative arterial switch procedure for infants born with transposition of the great arteries.
- Our pediatric cardiac surgeons have decades of experience performing the Norwood procedure and staged palliation for HLHS, with outcomes among the very best in the country.
Exceptional, Comprehensive Care, all in One Location
Babies with heart defects often require special care at birth. Our pediatric heart experts work closely with experts in maternal-fetal medicine to create a detailed plan of care tailored to the unique needs of you and your baby. With the right plan in place, your team of providers will be prepared for your baby’s birth, even if it is complex. At NewYork-Presbyterian, whether you choose to have your baby at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital or NewYork-Presbyterian Alexandra Cohen Hospital for Women and Newborns, you and your baby will receive exceptional, comprehensive care in the same place. We pride ourselves in having the first infant Cardiac Intensive Care Unit in the US dedicated to the care of newborns with heart issues.
Recognized for High Standards of Care
- NewYork-Presbyterian is designated a Regional Perinatal Center by the State of New York — the highest hospital classification level — denoting its expertise, treatment, and skills to care for the most difficult and high-risk cases.
- NewYork-Presbyterian is a participating Network Center of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network, supporting research to reduce morbidities associated with preterm birth, fetal growth abnormalities, and maternal complications
- National Recognition for Excellence in Nursing from ANCC Magnet Recognition Program