What Is Maternal-fetal medicine (MFM)?
It is an emerging branch of medicine that focuses on managing the health concerns of the mother and fetus before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and shortly 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 in mothers with complex medical and surgical diseases and those with major obstetrical problems. They also help improve outcomes and provide guidance and counseling in cases of fetal disorders and anomalies.
To whom does it help?
This branch of medicine helps care for expectant mothers with chronic conditions, e.g., heart, kidney, or liver disease. Gastrointestinal conditions, e.g., Inflammatory bowel disease, hypertension, diabetes; neurological disorders, e.g., seizure disorder, migraine; psychiatric conditions, e.g., depression. Blood disorders, e.g., sickle cell disease, thalassemia, and various thromboembolic conditions, e.g., thrombophilia. They also take care of pregnant women at risk for pregnancy-related complications (e.g., preterm labor, pre-eclampsia, and twin or triplet pregnancies) and, wherever possible, take preventive measures to reduce adverse maternal and fetal outcomes. Also, they deal with expecting mothers with underlying disorders like autoimmune conditions, e.g., SLE(Systemic Lupus Erythematosus), musculoskeletal disorders, e.g., kyphoscoliosis, those who conceived via ART(Artificial Reproductive Techniques), those with neoplastic diseases before or during pregnancy and women with disabilities. They also deal with mothers whose fetuses may be at risk due to chromosomal or congenital abnormalities, maternal disease, infections, genetic diseases, and growth restriction. They also deal with Rh-immunized pregnancies and help improve fetal outcomes.
To whom can it help?
Maternal-fetal medicine specialists help workup with women with recurrent pregnancy loss and those with a history of previous stillbirth. They also help in the workup of women before pregnancy and do detailed pre-pregnancy counseling for different medical conditions or bad obstetric history to optimize the woman’s health and improve future pregnancy outcomes. They provide comprehensive care in association with other specialists and care providers. During pregnancy, they monitor both the mother and fetus, make a pregnancy plan timely birth plan and manage labor and delivery to provide the optimum outcome for the mother and the baby. They are also well-trained in obstetric ultrasound and perform detailed nuchal scans, anomaly scans, growth scans, doppler studies, and other obstetric scans. They can perform invasive prenatal diagnosis using amniocentesis and chorionic villus sampling to detect Trisomies, e.g., Downs syndrome, or other genetic conditions. Overall, these specialists strive to improve maternal and child outcomes by preventing, diagnosing, and treating various health conditions of women before, during, and after pregnancy.
Dr. Prathima Prabhu
Assistant Professor, Department of OBG
MBBS, MS OBG, FNB Maternal and Fetal medicine (High-risk pregnancy and
Father Muller Medical College Hospital, Kankanady, Mangalore