Maternal Fetal Medicine
Maternal-Fetal medicine (MFM) is the branch of obstetrics that focuses on the medical and surgical management of high-risk pregnancies. Management includes monitoring and treatment including comprehensive ultrasound,chorionic villus sampling, genetic amniocentesis, and fetal surgery or treatment. Obstetricians who practice maternal-fetal medicine are also known as perinatologists. This is a subspecialty to obstetrics and gynecology mainly used for patients with high-risk pregnancies.
Maternal-fetal medicine specialists are obstetrician-gynecologists who undergo an additional 2-3 years of specialized training in the assessment and management of high-risk pregnancies. As a result, they are able to take care of pregnant women who have special medical problems (e.g. heart or kidney disease, hypertension, diabetes, and thrombophilia), pregnant women who are at risk for pregnancy-related complications (e.g. preterm labor, pre-eclampsia, and twin or triplet pregnancies), and pregnant women with fetuses at risk. Fetuses may be at risk because of chromosomal or congenital abnormalities, maternal disease, infections, genetic diseases, and growth restriction.
Maternal-fetal medicine specialists have training in obstetric ultrasound, invasive prenatal diagnosis using amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling, and the management of high-risk pregnancies. Some of them are further trained in the field of fetal diagnosis and prenatal therapy where they become competent in advanced procedures such as targeted fetal assessment using ultrasound and Doppler, fetal blood sampling and transfusion, fetoscopy, and open fetal surgery.
The field of maternal-fetal medicine is one of the most rapidly evolving fields in medicine especially in what concerns the fetus. Research is being carried on in the field of fetal gene and stem cell therapy in hope to provide early treatment for genetic disorders, open fetal surgery for the correction of birth defects like congenital heart disease, and the prevention of preeclampsia.