Perinatal Center

Exceptional Care for High-risk Pregnant Women and Babies

Loyola Medicine’s Perinatal Center provides comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for high-risk obstetric patients in the critical weeks just before and after delivery. Our widely acclaimed Perinatal Center will oversee your individualized prenatal care and help to manage any pre-existing conditions that may put you and your developing baby at risk. 

We will coordinate all tests that you may require for monitoring your baby’s health and development. Your doctor also will check for birth defects, blood disorders and heart problems and arrange surgery if necessary. Your obstetrician will help you with any health problems afterward, such as infections, heavy bleeding or hypertension.

Our center, which acts as a liaison between the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and member hospitals, is known for taking on the most challenging cases in Illinois. We are pleased to offer the benefits of having the IDPH’s 5th Region Perinatal Center housed at Loyola.

Why Choose Loyola for Perinatal Care?

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

Loyola’s Level III Perinatal Center serves nine regional hospitals and 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. We work with hospital staff to 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.

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. In addition, Loyola’s NICU serves as a national model for care with a survival rate that is among the best in the country.

What Conditions are Treated at the Perinatal Center?

The specialists at Loyola’s widely acclaimed Perinatal Center will provide you with individualized prenatal care and help to manage any pre-existing conditions that may put you and your developing baby at risk, including:

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

How are Perinatal Conditions Diagnosed?

For the diagnosis and care of mothers and their babies in the critical weeks just before and after birth, Loyola provides the following tests:

  • 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. 
     
  • 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.
     
  • 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. 

How are Perinatal Conditions Treated?

Loyola’s perinatal experts specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of fetal and obstetrical conditions. Our clinicians have received specialized training to diagnose complex conditions and provide the most advanced treatment options; your doctor can provide a referral to a Loyola specialist if needed. 

Your treatment will depend on your condition and may include:

  • Fetal monitoring
  • Medications
  • Pain management
  • Patient education
  • Prenatal care
  • Surgery (laparoscopic, robotic or open surgery)

Specialized Programs to Diagnose and Treat Perinatal Conditions

The Perinatal Center and hospital staff 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.
     
  • 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.
     
  • 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.

Ongoing Research and Clinical Trials to Improve Perinatal Care

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

  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Intrauterine growth restriction 
  • Multifetal pregnancies
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Preterm labor
  • Tocolytic treatment

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.

Continuing Education of Perinatal Care for Medical Professionals

The Perinatal Center at Loyola firmly believes in continuing education of medical professionals in order to provide the best possible care to its patients. Several workshops, lectures and other education opportunities offered by the Perinatal Center can be found at the Northwestern Perinatal Center site.