Fetal Assessment Center

Specialized Testing and Diagnostic Services for Women and Babies

Pregnancy usually is a time for celebration, but it also can be a time of concern for women who may be at high risk during pregnancy. If you are already pregnant or contemplating pregnancy, and you and your obstetrician are worried about possible problems, Loyola Medicine’s Fetal Assessment Center offers specialized testing and diagnostic services performed by clinicians with advanced maternal-fetal medicine training. It’s the first step toward obtaining peace of mind about your pregnancy.

Loyola offers comprehensive, integrated care for mothers-to-be and their developing babies. Our Fetal Assessment Center is an outpatient service dedicated to providing accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible. In many cases, you can have all tests performed and the results will be sent to your obstetrician on the same day. We also work with patients who have complications that other doctors and hospitals may not have the experience or the expertise to manage.

Why Choose Loyola for Fetal Assessment? 

Loyola provides truly integrated clinical care for women and their babies during pregnancy, bringing together specialists in obstetrics and gynecology, pediatric subspecialties and neonatology to provide advanced care in a compassionate environment. 

Loyola’s state-designated Level III Perinatal Center has a proven track record of improving survival rates of high-risk babies born to mothers who have conditions that require advanced medical or surgical care. Our skilled clinicians provide coordinated high-risk obstetrical and neonatal services for some of the most challenging cases in Illinois, serving nine regional hospitals with a combined total of 9,500 babies delivered each year. 

We provide individualized consultations in both inpatient and outpatient settings and are available to arrange transportation for high-risk babies to Loyola on a 24/7 basis. Our board-certified specialists are on-call around the clock, seven days a week.

As part of an academic medical center, Loyola’s expert clinicians perform and teach the latest surgical techniques and medical treatments in numerous locations across the Chicago area. In addition, our nurses have earned Magnet status, which means they have been recognized for delivering the highest level of care.

What Fetal Conditions are Diagnosed and Treated at Loyola?

Loyola’s Fetal Assessment Center and maternal-fetal medicine specialists offer diagnosis and care for the following conditions:

  • Abnormal maternal serum screening test results
  • Abruptio placenta
  • Amniotic fluid embolism
  • Couple has family history of a genetic disorder, such as muscular dystrophy or cystic fibrosis
  • Couple has family history of birth defects
  • Diabetes (gestational, type 1 and type 2)
  • Ethnic/racial background at risk for certain genetic disorders
  • Excessive or insufficient amniotic fluid surrounding your baby (polyhydramnios/oligohydramnios)
  • Exposure to certain toxins, substances or medications during pregnancy
  • Gastrointestinal conditions
  • Growth anomalies (abnormal fetal growth, macrosomia, fetal growth restriction)
  • Heart disease
  • History of miscarriages
  • Hypertension
  • Infectious diseases (parvovirus, toxoplasmosis, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS)
  • Kidney disease
  • Lupus
  • Multiple gestation (twins, triplets or quadruplets, for example)
  • Placenta previa
  • Platelet alloimmunization (Rh complications)
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Pregnancy and obesity
  • Two weeks have elapsed since your due date without delivery​

What Services are Provided at the Fetal Assessment Center?

Loyola’s Fetal Assessment Center offers numerous outpatient tests to provide an accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible. Our diagnostic tests and services include:

  • Advanced obstetric ultrasound — Using high-frequency sound waves, your Loyola technologist can produce moving images to monitor the health and development of your baby during pregnancy. This test is painless, non-invasive, uses no radiation and can be used to detect conditions that could affect the baby’s development and delivery. Learn more about ultrasounds
     
  • Alpha fetoprotein (AFP) blood test — AFP screening is offered to all pregnant women and is most accurate between 16 and 18 weeks of pregnancy. This non-invasive blood test may signal the need for further testing to determine if the baby is at risk for abnormalities or defects such as spina bifida, anencephaly, Down syndrome or Edwards syndrome.
     
  • Amniocentesis — During this procedure, amniotic fluid is removed from the uterus and tested for signs of genetic disorders or abnormalities. Amniocentesis is usually performed at 15 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. This test is invasive and carries a small risk of miscarriage. 
     
  • Biophysical profile — This test uses real-time ultrasound to evaluate fetal movement, fetal breathing and amniotic fluid.
     
  • Chorionic villus sampling (CVS) — For women with a family history of genetic conditions or if the mother is older than 35, CVS may be recommended to assess the baby’s risk for a genetic condition such as Down syndrome. This test carries a small risk of miscarriage. 
     
  • Cordocentesis or umbilical cord sampling — During this test, a sample of the baby’s blood is removed from the umbilical cord and tested for blood conditions and infections. This test is invasive and carries a risk of miscarriage. 
     
  • DNA testing — A series of DNA tests will check for various inherited diseases.
     
  • Fetal echocardiogram — This procedure is used to monitor the baby’s heart rate.
     
  • Genetic counseling — For parents-to-be with a baby at risk of a birth defect or an inherited disease, Loyola offers counseling and genetic testing to provide information and support. Learn more about genetic counseling.
     
  • Nonstress test (NST) — This test is non-invasive and is used to measure changes in your baby’s heart rate and overall well-being. This test may be recommended if your baby is not moving as frequently as usual, if you are overdue or if there is any reason to suspect that the baby is in distress. This test can signal that there may be placental or umbilical cord problems.  
     
  • Perinatal consultation — We offer expert consultation for special medical concerns during pregnancy and up to one month after delivery.

Your treatment will depend on your condition and may include medical monitoring, medication or surgery. Your Loyola team will develop a detailed medical plan of action and discuss it with you.  

Advanced Clinical Care and Services to Treat Women and Babies

Loyola’s Fetal Assessment Center provides comprehensive care for mother and baby in state-of-the-art facilities. In addition to providing the most advanced clinical care, our staff offers support and education to parents-to-be. 

We offer the following specialized services to provide you with the most comprehensive care:

  • Maternal-fetal medicine — Loyola’s board-certified specialists have advanced training in caring for women during high-risk pregnancies, whether the required treatment is medical or surgical in nature. Learn more about maternal-fetal medicine.
     
  • Neonatal follow-up program — Our specialists will evaluate infants at risk of developmental delays after they leave the hospital. A neonatologist will attend to babies until they reach 18 months, after which they are seen by a child development specialist. We also provide additional care for infants sent home on monitors and oxygen, as well as those receiving caffeine therapy for apnea of prematurity (AOP).
     
  • Neonatal integrated home care program — Our experts will train and support your family in the care of preterm infants and babies born with certain conditions. NICU nurses trained in home care will provide high-tech infusion services, physical and occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, medical social services and instruction in transitioning a preterm infant to oral feeding. Learn more about pediatric home care
     
  • Perinatal Center — Our state-designated Level III Perinatal Center has a proven track record of improving survival rates of high-risk babies born to mothers who have conditions that require advanced medical or surgical care. Our skilled clinicians provide coordinated high-risk obstetrical and neonatal services for some of the most challenging cases in Illinois. We provide individualized consultations in both inpatient and outpatient settings and are available to arrange transportation for high-risk babies to Loyola on a 24/7 basis. Our board-certified specialists are on-call around the clock, seven days a week. Learn more about our Perinatal Center.

Ongoing Research to Improve Evaluation and Treatment of Fetal Conditions

Loyola’s Fetal Assessment Center is actively pursuing new research with a focus on patient-centered outcomes, including studies on:

  • Autoimmune disorders 
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Growth restriction 
  • Multifetal pregnancies
  • Pre-eclampsia 
  • Preterm labor
  • Tocolytic therapies

As an academic medical center, Loyola is dedicated to improving future treatments by conducting research on new diagnostics and treatments. Loyola’s patients benefit from research discoveries made here.