Fetal Heart Program Marks Milestone in Improving Cardiac and Delivery Outcomes

Patients of the Fetal Heart Program are seeing improved outcomes and patient experience due to recent upgrades at Cincinnati Children’s. These include expanded onsite birthing options for some patients and additional mental health services.

Expanded Special Delivery Unit

The Special Delivery Unit, part of the Cincinnati Children’s Fetal Care Center and provided in collaboration with TriHealth, expanded in 2020. It now better serves expecting moms whose babies require complex care, including those with heart conditions. In certain circumstances, expecting mothers are able to deliver their baby in this special unit when advanced medical care or surgery is needed right after birth.

Research to reduce stress of expectant parents

Also within the past year, the Fetal Heart team received funding from Additional Ventures for research to improve mental health care for patient families. This new study led by Nadine Kasparian, PhD, and James Cnota, MD, is testing the effects of prenatally delivered psychological intervention for parents after fetal cardiac diagnosis. The researchers aim to reduce the psychological distress that expectant parents commonly experience after fetal cardiac diagnosis and improve family coping and wellbeing post-diagnosis.

The Fetal Heart Program places an emphasis on both a healthy delivery for mom and baby as well as long-term health. “We make an effort to not only make an accurate medical diagnosis, but to put the mother and baby in the best position to have a good delivery outcome that leads to good congenital heart disease outcomes,” says Cnota, program director.

Finding advanced care

The Hagestads from Los Angeles recognized the benefits of the Fetal Heart Program. They moved to Cincinnati to access the specialized care the program provides before and after the birth of their son Wyatt.

When Laura was pregnant with their fourth child in early 2020, she and her husband Regan found out Wyatt had a heart defect and would need surgery soon after birth. Cincinnati Children’s has internationally renowned heart surgeons, as well as the Special Delivery Unit. This meant Wyatt could be born a short distance from the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit, and Laura was just an elevator ride away from visiting.

The Special Delivery Unit is one of only a few birthing centers in the world located inside a pediatric hospital. It includes two new operating rooms for fetal surgery and C-section deliveries, a triage room, and six dedicated rooms for labor, delivery and postpartum recovery.

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