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New joint program for high-risk pregnant women and their babies

The Children's Hospital and the University of Colorado Hospital (UCH) have finalized an agreement to jointly establish a center for advanced maternal fetal medicine offering state-of-the-art care for high-risk pregnant women and their babies.

The two leading academic medical centers have individually provided such services for more than three decades, and by building on already existing adult and pediatric expertise, they together will be able to provide unparalleled care and treatment for the region's most at-risk moms and babies.

The rapid development of technology and clinical innovation now enables caregivers to not only diagnose but also provide intervention for certain medical conditions before a baby is born. The ability to provide such interventions can reduce, and in some cases eliminate, the adverse consequences of many chronic diseases.

The new center initially will focus on babies needing highly-specialized surgical care within 72 hours of birth, and both mother and baby will be cared for at The Children's Hospital. Under the unique program, mothers who are carrying high-risk babies may receive their outpatient care and ultimately deliver at The Children's Hospital starting in early 2011. UCH will continue treating other serious neonatal conditions and high-risk mothers while also offering its routine labor and delivery services to more than 3,000 families each year.

"The unique collaboration of research, education and clinical care that exists on the Anschutz Medical Campus allows for rapid clinical intervention by some of the most renowned providers in the world. Our multidisciplinary approach ensures the best possible outcomes for mother and child," said Children's President and CEO Jim Shmerling. "Often, when it comes to treating these tiny patients, timing is everything."

This center will offer personalized support services to families that are unique to this region, including a Perinatal Mental Health Program to support mothers with post partum depression and a Fetal Concerns Program to provide support and education to families who have learned their unborn baby has a medical condition.

"The high-risk mother-baby program in particular provides unparalleled care and treatment for mothers and their babies while offering them access to more coordinated medical specialties than any other program in the Rocky Mountain region," said Bruce Schroffel, president and CEO of University of Colorado Hospital. "Formalizing the program recognizes the superior care that comes with combining the talents of the medical teams at both hospitals and proves to be an example of the unique specialty programs found only at the Anschutz Medical Campus, a point of destination for excellence in patient care, education and research."

The hospitals are located on the Anschutz Medical Campus, and they share faculty physicians from the University of Colorado School of Medicine, also on the campus. Children's is regularly named as one of the top children's hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, a nationwide survey that examines outcomes, quality and reputation. The most recent edition names Children's neonatal department as one of the top ten in the nation. University of Colorado Hospital is repeatedly one of the few hospitals in the country the magazine names as among the best in America. Just released rankings show UCH in the top 50 U.S. hospitals in four specialties including cancer, kidney disorders, pulmonology and rheumatology.

Approximately 10 percent of pregnancies are considered high risk, and that number continues to grow for a variety of reasons (according to the CDC, 2007). Approximately 13 percent of babies are born pre-term (CDC, 2007).

"Expectant mothers, especially those with high-risk babies, should have the peace of mind in knowing the very best care will be on hand when their baby arrives," said Nanette Santoro, MD, chair of the University of Colorado School of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "This program serves women and families of Colorado and Rocky Mountain Region by ensuring the most up-to-date care and treatment is available."

The Children's Hospital and UCH's multi-disciplinary teams have pioneered many critical developments in neonatal and maternal fetal care and in many cases were among the first in the world to use new therapies, including:

  • Surfactant replacement for premature babies' lungs
  • Inhaled nitric oxide therapy for pulmonary hypertension, as well as, for the prevention of premature lung disease
  • Brain cooling for perinatal brain injury
  • Optimal nutritional strategies for low birth-weight babies (e.g. established the industry standards for adding zinc to infant formula and demonstrated that increased rates of protein nutrition in pre-term infants are necessary for growth and development.)
  • The maternal-fetal group was the first in the region to use 3D/4D ultrasound for evaluation and management of spinal abnormalities, and the first to perform stem cell transfer for a genetic blood disorder to a fetus, which was performed at 14 weeks.


Contact: Jacque Montgomery
University of Colorado Denver

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