Fetal Cardiology Program

A husband is embracing his pregnant wife.The fetal cardiology program at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital provides comprehensive care for the pregnant mother and her fetus, who has been diagnosed with a heart defect. Our fetal services span the length of your entire pregnancy, starting with a fetal echocardiogram, which helps screen for potential heart defects, and continuing to delivery of your child where further care is transitioned to our neonatal and pediatric cardiology team if necessary. Our expert team consists of fetal and pediatric cardiologists, pediatric and congenital heart surgeons, fetal and pediatric cardiac sonographers and a nurse navigator, who work closely with the patient’s obstetrical team to manage care throughout a high-risk pregnancy and delivery.

Who Is Most At Risk for Heart Defects?

Moms at a greater risk for having a baby with a heart defect may include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Women with congenital heart defects
  • Women with uncontrolled diabetes
  • Moms who have already had a child with heart disease
  • Women who need to take certain medications during pregnancy
  • Women with certain genetic syndromes

The fetus may be affected by any first degree relative, including the father, who may also have congenital heart defects.

Talk to your obstetrician about your specific risks.

Logo for Intersocietal Accreditation Commission Accredited Facility in EchocardiographyFetal Echocardiography

If any potential problems are detected with your baby’s heart during pregnancy, a fetal echocardiogram is an important next step. This specialized ultrasound can identify congenital heart defects in an unborn baby that may require special care for the mother and fetus. Our fetal echocardiography sonographers are specially trained to perform these ultrasounds.

Our fetal echocardiography program and our cardiac non-invasive laboratory are fully accredited by the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission (IAC), demonstrating our commitment to high quality patient care and its provision of excellence in diagnostic testing for complex congenital heart disease. We are accredited in fetal echocardiography, pediatric transthoracic echocardiography and pediatric transesophageal echocardiography.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A fetal cardiologist will read and evaluate your echocardiogram as soon as it’s complete. The cardiologist will then meet with you immediately afterwards for a complete consultation. They will review the study with you and discuss what to expect next regarding safe delivery of your baby and any medical treatment your baby may need after delivery. Our perinatal nurse navigator will also meet with you to review any questions you have and will provide support and resources for you and your family throughout your pregnancy.

Our team will continue any necessary care throughout the pregnancy. We work closely with your obstetrical team to coordinate all care through delivery for a seamless transition from fetal life to medical and surgical care of your newborn infant following delivery.

Our level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) provides the highest level of care as designated by the American Academy of Pediatrics, including immediate on-site access to pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists who provide care for babies born with medically complex conditions, including congenital heart defects.

For more information about pediatric heart services call our KIDS Heart Hotline: (813) 644-6679.

Return to Pediatric Heart and Vascular Services

St. Joseph's Children's Hospital - Echocardiography
Blaine John, MD, discusses the benefits of fetal echocardiography, or ultrasound imaging of the heart.
St. Joseph's Children's Hospital - Perinatal Cardiology
James Huhta, MD, discusses the state-of-the-art perinatal cardiology program at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital.