HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM)– “The term disability is like a blanket term. So when we’re talking about fetal conditions, we really think of fetal anomalies or even susceptibilities. But we really, the terminology that we mostly use are really congenital anomalies,” Angie Jelin said.
Modern medicine and technology have come a long way over the last couple of years. Doctors now can detect a medical condition while a child is still in the womb. Angie Jelin is a prenatal geneticist at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She explained one of the technologies she uses when screening for a condition.
“We still use ultrasound as our primary screening modality, but really rely on the anatomy scan that we still perform and 18 to 22 weeks to detect fetal abnormalities,” she explained.
Jelin said it is important to detect conditions while a fetus is still in the womb, but Some conditions may not be detectable until the child is born.
“I do want to stress that most fetal anomalies cannot be treated in utero, but there are some now that can and we certainly want to give those parents adequate time to seek appropriate care if they have a condition that can be treated,” Jelin said.
She said the ones that are detected early can potentially save the baby’s life.
“In specific cases, that really does prolong your life. You know, these babies used to die from fetal anemia in utero, and now it’s a survivable condition,” Jelin stated.
However, she said sometimes it takes a few weeks for doctors to detect a condition within a fetus.
“So most of the time, as far as detection goes, we would see these things between 18 and 42 weeks because that is the standard time to do the ultrasound that really detects anomalies. And so, most of the time, that’s when they’re detected, and we do need adequate time because the patient does need to make a decision about it’s a big decision to move forward with a fetal procedure,” she continued.
When it is time for surgery to be done, Jelin said the baby and the mother rarely feel anything.
“We require obstetric anesthesia. So we have anesthesiologists who are very qualified in obstetrics who provide the type of anesthesia you would give for any other type of surgery so often these women would have general anesthesia,” Jelin explained.
If you and your significant other are planning to have a baby, Jelin recommends you do this first.
“Sometimes it doesn’t be seen in families because their odds are on the recessive. So we do need to have both a mom and a dad who are carriers in order to have an effective child so it’s still a very good idea to get tested,” she said.
Jelin said if you are interested in getting your prenatal screenings to talk to your primary care doctor.