Fetal Cardiology at the Blalock-Taussig-Thomas Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center
If you are expecting a baby and your doctor finds something that may be unusual in your developing baby’s heart, it is important to have this studied before birth. Your doctor may also recommend a scan on your baby’s heart if you have certain pre-existing health conditions. These assessments will help your baby be as strong as possible before and after birth.
Our team of prenatal heart specialists will help monitor your baby before birth and care for your baby after birth. We are highly skilled in all types of fetal heart disease, performing more than 1,300 fetal echocardiograms — heart scans of developing babies — every year.
Why Choose the Blalock-Taussig-Thomas Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center
We perform more than 1,300 fetal echocardiograms yearly. These scans help us see your unborn baby’s heart. We usually scan your baby’s heart at 18 – 22 weeks. However, first trimester fetal echocardiograms are available starting at 11 weeks through our Center for Fetal Therapy.
We are able to diagnose complex congenital heart disease and cardiac rhythm disorders before birth. Our specialists provide fetal cardiology services, including diagnostic ultrasound and family counseling.
We have outreach clinics and partnerships with maternal fetal medicine groups at Sibley Memorial Hospital, Anne Arundel Medical Center, GBMC and the Anne Arundel Medical Group in Easton. Our treatment center is located within Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore.
Close to Baby at Birth.
If you are delivering at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, you will be able to stay close to your newborn baby after delivery. Our delivery rooms are next to our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and close to the pediatric cardiac intensive care unit (PCICU) and cardiac operating rooms. At our hospital, newborns are in the hands of experts immediately, and parents and baby stay close.
We work closely with experts you may see throughout Johns Hopkins Medicine, including maternal-fetal medicine specialists, genetic counselors, and other specialists. If your doctors are outside of Johns Hopkins, we strive to work closely with them to ensure you and your baby get the best care.
About Our Program
The Fetal Cardiology Program at the Blalock-Taussig-Thomas Pediatric and Congenital Heart Center is a national leader in the evaluation and diagnosis of fetal heart disease prior to a baby’s birth. We offer the most advanced treatments available for maternal and baby care under one roof — with exceptional outcomes in pediatric cardiac intensive care.
Caring for you and your baby includes:
- Expert evaluation and diagnosis and treatment
- Planning for delivery
- Care for your newborn after birth
Who should have a fetal echocardiogram?
The Johns Hopkins fetal cardiology team sees expectant families for a range of health needs, and recommends a fetal echocardiogram for families who have:
- A family history of congenital heart disease (CHD)
- Tests that reveal your baby has a genetic or chromosomal abnormality
- Used in vitro fertilization to conceive
- Certain health conditions, such as diabetes
- Suspected heart problem on other testing or scanning
Meet Our Fetal Cardiology Specialists
The experience and knowledge of our team and the excellence of our facilities allow us to offer parents the utmost in care and planning during a most difficult time.
What to Expect When You Come to Our Center
Caring for your baby starts with a comprehensive evaluation that includes a fetal echocardiogram, which is a safe, noninvasive ultrasound to assess the structure and function of your unborn baby's heart. Immediately following the fetal echocardiogram, we will meet with you to discuss next steps.
If a heart condition is diagnosed, having this information while your unborn baby is still developing allows valuable time to consider options and plan care. We will be with you throughout your pregnancy and afterwards to offer:
- Regular monitoring: As your pregnancy progresses, we will perform echocardiograms around every four weeks. These allow us to monitor how your baby’s heart is developing and whether changes are occurring. We tailor our approach to care for your baby’s precise needs.
- Frequent contact with your doctors: We will be in close and frequent contact with your obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) to plan the best delivery options and treatment for you and your baby. You will also have the opportunity to meet with a cardiac surgeon if your child will need surgery after birth.
- Nurse coordinator for help: Once we arrive at a diagnosis, you and your family can work with our nurse coordinator to go over next steps and review any more diagnostic tests that your doctor recommends. The nurse coordinator can assist you with transferring your records and answer your questions.
- Sibling support with a Child Life specialist: If you have other children, our Child Life specialist can meet them to help explain what they can expect and how they can help as their younger sibling is treated for a heart condition.
- A social worker who will collaborate with your care team to assist in meeting any psychological, emotional, social and practical needs your child or family may have.
- Fetal intervention: If caught in the first trimester, some forms of fetal heart disease can be treated in utero. We work collaboratively with our Center for Fetal Therapy for early interventions.