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Children's Hospital Brings Hope to Special Babies and Their Families
Date:12/29/2009

etrical unit within a pediatric hospital for mothers carrying a fetus with a known birth defect. Prenatal and delivery services are contained within the same unit. Patients are cared for by a dedicated team of obstetricians, maternal fetal medicine specialists, pediatric surgeons, fetal cardiologists, neonatologists, radiologists, sonographers, nurse-midwives, nurses and social workers.

Unlike centers where mothers give birth and recover in one hospital while their critically ill newborns are transferred to a specialized pediatric facility, the SDU allows the mother and baby to stay in the same hospital with a multidisciplinary team of experts caring for both the mother and the baby.

Patients are first introduced to the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment or the Fetal Heart Program during an outpatient evaluation. During the initial evaluation, mothers receive a series of tests in a single day - a high-resolution ultrasound, an ultrafast fetal MRI and an echocardiogram. After the images are evaluated, the team meets with the family to discuss the diagnosis and treatment options and to devise a care plan. If the baby will require immediate critical care upon birth, the family is enrolled in the SDU program.

"The uniqueness of the SDU goes beyond the convenience of having the mother and baby together in a pediatric hospital," said Lori J. Howell, RN, MS, executive director of the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment. "The unit staff strives to optimize and individualize the birth experience for mothers and normalize their delivery experience as much as possible during a difficult and technically challenging time for the baby."

Patients are followed by the team throughout the pregnancy, and it is the familiar members of the mother's prenatal care team who also deliver the baby. After the birth, the SDU team immediately brings the family together, and encourages parents to be with their new babies as soon as possib
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SOURCE The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
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