Maternal-Fetal Medicine

Comprehensive Techniques to Diagnose and Treat Pregnancy Complications

Loyola Medicine offers comprehensive, integrated maternal-fetal medicine care for women who have or may develop pregnancy complications. Our multidisciplinary team of doctors, sonographers, genetic counselors, pediatric subspecialists, perinatologists, neonatologists and nurses will help you during this very special time.

The field of maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) focuses on the care of high-risk pregnancies. Our MFM specialists will provide you with individualized prenatal care and help to manage any pre-existing conditions that may be worrisome during this time. They will coordinate all tests to monitor your baby’s health and development. 

Your MFM doctor will check for birth defects, blood disorders and heart problems in your baby and arrange surgery if necessary. Your doctor also will coordinate care with your obstetrician to care for any health problems experienced by the mother after delivery, such as infections, heavy bleeding or hypertension

Loyola’s maternal-fetal medicine specialists focus on caring for mothers and babies with the following conditions during pregnancy:

  • Lupus
  • Multiple gestation (twins, triplets or quadruplets, for example)
  • Placenta previa
  • Platelet alloimmunization (Rh complications)
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Pregnancy and obesity
  • Previous obstetrical problems (preterm labor or delivery, preterm cervical dilation, premature rupture, miscarriage)
  • Thyroid condition and other endocrine disorders​

Why Choose Loyola for Maternal-Fetal Medicine?

Loyola provides truly integrated clinical maternal-fetal care, bringing together specialists in obstetrics and gynecology, neonatology, pediatric subspecialties and imaging 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.

How are Maternal-Fetal Conditions Diagnosed?

Loyola’s maternal-fetal medicine specialists work closely with certified genetic specialists to provide complete pre- and post-conception genetic testing and counseling services. We provide education on available genetic tests, as well as the risks and benefits of genetic testing. We also support parents-to-be in receiving and understanding the implications of any test results. 

Common reasons for women to be referred for prenatal genetic counseling include:

  • Abnormal blood tests
  • Abnormal diagnostic genetic test
  • Abnormal ultrasound genetic screening tests
  • Advanced maternal age (35 or older at due date)
  • Consanguinity
  • Family history (or previous child) with mental retardation, birth defect or genetic disorder
  • History of three or more miscarriages, one stillbirth or neonatal death
  • Teratogen exposure (fetal exposure to alcohol, smoking, medications, street drugs, chemicals, infections and maternal medical conditions)

Loyola’s skilled specialists provide a wide range of tests and services to detect and monitor problems or conditions during your pregnancy including: 

  • 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 the 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. 
     
  • Blood tests — Your doctor may use blood testing to assess your baby’s risk for birth defects such as Down syndrome. This test is most informative at 15 to 20 weeks of pregnancy. 
     
  • 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. 
     
  • 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.
     
  • Glucose screening — Glucose screening is a routine test performed between 24 and 28 weeks of pregnancy. This test is used to determine if the mother has gestational diabetes. 
     
  • Nonstress test (NST) — This test is non-invasive and 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.  
     
  • Urinalysis — Your doctor will periodically take urine tests to screen for health conditions such as bladder, kidney or urinary tract infections, diabetes, dehydration and pre-eclampsia.

Specialized Programs to Detect and Monitor Maternal-Fetal Conditions

Loyola’s maternal-fetal medicine specialists provide comprehensive care for mother and baby in outstanding, conveniently located facilities. We also provide recommendations for timely and appropriate screenings for mother and baby to detect and monitor conditions and abnormalities. We have multidisciplinary facilities at the Loyola University Medical Center campus, in addition to outpatient services at other locations. 

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

  • Fetal Assessment Center — Our center provides expert obstetrical ultrasound services, perinatal consultative services, genetic counseling, diagnostic testing and fetal heart rate testing. All assessment services are conveniently provided at the Loyola Outpatient Center. These diagnostic tests are performed and interpreted by healthcare providers with specialized training in maternal-fetal medicine. We will provide prompt and accurate service and talk with you about the results, often in the same day. Learn more about our Fetal Assessment Center.
     
  • 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.
     
  • Neonatal intensive care unit — Loyola has one of the state’s highest survival rates for low-birth-weight infants. Our neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) cares for more than 400 critically ill newborns each year. Loyola’s doctors have successfully delivered more than 3,000 babies who weighed less than two pounds, including the world’s smallest and second-smallest surviving babies. Loyola has a proven track record of providing the highest level of care. In addition, Loyola’s NICU serves as a national model for care with a survival rate that is among the best in the country. Learn more about our NICU.
     
  • 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 Advance the Treatment of Pregnancy Complications

Loyola’s expert maternal-fetal medicine specialists are actively pursuing new research with a focus on patient-centered outcomes. including studies on: 

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Breastfeeding and cerebral palsy
  • Intrauterine 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.