The Advanced Fetal Care Center at Boston Children’s Hospital is a leading destination for the treatment of birth defects and congenital anomalies, from the prenatal period through childhood. Thousands of pregnant women from around the world have been referred to our center for testing, counseling, treatment, and care when a fetal anomaly is suspected or diagnosed.

Few hospitals offer the depth and breadth of expertise that we do. Our comprehensive center is one of just a handful in the United States, and U.S. News & World Report has named our neonatology program the best in the nation. In addition, we’re the world’s first and most experienced center to perform successful fetal cardiac interventions — the treatment of heart abnormalities in the womb to reduce potentially fatal concerns after delivery.

Our experience in fetal care has shown that the earlier a birth defect can be correctly diagnosed, the greater a baby’s chances of experiencing optimal development and health. Using advanced imaging techniques, groundbreaking treatments, and supportive care, our specialists increase the chance of survival and the quality of life for your baby.

Conditions We Treat

Our team of physicians and surgeons covers more than 20 medical specialties and treats the full range of birth defects and congenital anomalies, including:

  • Deformities and craniofacial anomalies. Cleft lip and cleft palate, clubfoot, gastroschisis, omphalocele, ambiguous genitalia, lymphatic malformation, cloacal deformities.
  • Lung and respiratory problems. Airway obstruction, infant respiratory distress syndrome, transient tachypnea of the newborn (TTN).
  • Heart problems. Tetralogy of Fallot, aortic valve stenosis, red blood cell disorders.
  • Brain and nervous-system defects. Encephaloceles, hydrocephalus, anencephaly.
  • Urinary tract and digestive defects. Bladder exstrophy, epispadias, esophageal atresia, hydronephrosis, ureterocele.

Our Approach

We create a coordinated plan of care that involves collaborating with physicians throughout the hospital and ongoing communication with your obstetric team. As needed, we also draw on the expertise of additional specialists – from disciplines such as cardiologyneurology and neurosurgeryorthopedics, and urology – to provide information to you and your family on what to expect after delivery.

At every step of the way, our team is committed to compassionate support and open, honest communication. We remain available for consultation throughout your pregnancy, and we also help to coordinate complex deliveries. For all of our patients, we offer a continuum of care and support that extends throughout childhood, from prenatal diagnosis and counseling through treatment and long-term follow-up.

Research and Innovation

Our specialists are rewriting what’s possible in fetal medicine and surgery. Through the joint work of researchers, genetic specialists, surgeons, and other experts, we’re breaking new ground in the understanding of fetal anomalies, with the goals of early detection and treatment. Some of our notable advances and techniques include:

  • The use of tiny balloon catheters to open abnormal heart valves, obstructions, or other cardiac abnormalities in a fetus. We are the only hospital to date to successfully perform these procedures.
  • Fetoscopic surgery, which uses minimally invasive techniques to correct congenital malformations without the need to remove the fetus from the womb.
  • Ex utero intrapartum treatment (EXIT) conducted at the time of the delivery, often for a congenital defect that blocks the airway. A baby is partially delivered through Cesarean section and remains attached to the umbilical cord, giving surgeons time to treat the obstruction so the baby can breathe independently by the time the cord is cut.
  • The first procedure to implant a cardiac device — a mesh stent just 2.5 millimeters wide — in a fetus.
  • The first surgery to repair a critical heart valve defect in a fetus.

Our physicians and researchers are currently leading or collaborating in numerous clinical trials, ensuring that you and your baby have access to the latest science and technology.

Patient Story: Solving a Newborn’s Rare Bladder Problem

A boy is born in Greece with bladder exstrophy, a rare urological condition that affects roughly 1 in every 40,000 babies. Deeply concerned, his parents consult experts in their home country and opt to seek care at Boston Children’s Hospital, which handles up to six such cases each year in its specialized bladder exstrophy program. Read more >>