What is Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM)?
It is an emerging branch of medicine that focuses on managing maternal and fetal health concerns before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and immediately after delivery. It is a subspecialization within the field of obstetrics. These maternal and fetal medicine specialists (also known as high-risk pregnancy specialists and perinatologists) are dedicated to optimizing outcomes for mothers with complex medical and surgical conditions as well as major obstetric complications. They help improve outcomes and provide guidance and advice on fetal diseases and anomalies.
Who does it help?
This branch of medicine helps care for expectant mothers with chronic conditions such as heart, kidney or liver disease, gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, neurological disorders such as seizures, migraines, psychiatric conditions such as depression, blood disorders such as sickle cell disease. , thalassemia and various thromboembolic conditions such as thrombophilias.
They also care for pregnant women who are at risk of pregnancy-related complications (such as preterm labour, pre-eclampsia and twin or triplet pregnancies) and take preventive measures wherever possible to reduce adverse maternal and fetal outcomes.
They also deal with expectant mothers who have underlying disorders such as autoimmune conditions such as SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus), muscle disorders such as kyphoscoliosis, those who have conceived through ART (artificial reproductive technology), those with neoplastic diseases before pregnancy or during disability, and women with .
They also deal with mothers whose fetuses may be at risk due to chromosomal or congenital abnormalities, maternal diseases, infections, genetic diseases, and growth restriction. They also deal with Rh isoimmunized pregnancies and help improve fetal outcomes.
Who can it help?
Maternal fetal medicine specialists assist in the workup of those with recurrent pregnancy loss and those with a history of prior stillbirth. They also help women work up before pregnancy, with a detailed pre-pregnancy counseling for various medical conditions or poor obstetric history to optimize the woman’s health before pregnancy and improve future pregnancy outcomes. They provide comprehensive care in collaboration with other specialists and care providers. During pregnancy they monitor both mother and fetus, create pregnancy plans, schedule births, and manage labor and delivery to provide the best outcomes for mother and baby.
They are well trained in obstetric ultrasound and perform detailed nuchal scans, anomaly scans, growth scans, Doppler studies and various other obstetric scans. They can perform invasive prenatal diagnosis using amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling to detect trisomies such as Down’s syndrome or other genetic conditions. Collectively these specialists strive to improve maternal and child outcomes by preventing, diagnosing, and treating a variety of women’s health conditions before, during, and after pregnancy.
Author: Dr. Prathma Prabhu
Assistant Professor, Department of OBG MBBS, MS OBG, FNB Maternal and Fetal Medicine (High Risk Pregnancy and Perinatology) Father Muller Medical College Hospital, Kankanadi, Mangaluru