Fetal therapy, also known as fetal treatment, is a branch of fetal medicine that works with medications and surgery to intervene when a fetus suffers from distress due to illness or genetic disorder, according to the North American Fetal Therapy Network. Procedures involving medication, which is non-invasive, and surgery can be administered and performed in utero to keep the fetus healthy.
How it is done
When medications need to be administered to the fetus, it is done by injecting the mother so that the medication flows through the placenta to the fetus. These medications, while for the fetus, also need to be safe for the mother as well. Giving the fetus an antibiotic that the mother is allergic to is not done. Medication is always altered in those cases.
In more urgent cases, surgical intervention may be needed. If this is the case, surgery is performed on the fetus and both mother and child will need to be monitored through the recovery.
Examples of fetal therapy
Some examples of this type of medical procedure include atrial flutters in the fetus, where the mother is injected with medication to correct a heart arrythmia. Fetal therapy can also be used to treat spina bifida, in utero.
This new field of medicine is complex and is not without risk. However, after discussing the pros and cons with your doctor, an informed decision can be made whether to attempt correction before or after birth. These types of procedures are done by a team of specialists and can be done in office, a hospital, or in specialized centers.
If you have questions or concerns about fetal treatments, any Atlanta area OB/GYN can be of assistance. They are always there to answer questions and to educate you on the latest medical developments.