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Send RequestIf you do not see the specialty you are looking for, please call us at: 617-355-6000.International visitors should call International Health Services at +1-617-355-5209.
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This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

This department is currently not accepting appointment requests online. Please call us at: 617-355-6000. International +1-617-355-6000.

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Locations
  • Heart Center at Boston Children's Hospital

    Today it's been 5 years since my son Matthew's A.V. Canal repair. I remember the nurses: Shannon, Jaime, and Patrick....They were so good with Matthew and with my husband and I.
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  • Heart Center at Boston Children's Hospital

    If it wasn't for Children's Hospital and the Cardiac wing he wouldn't be here. Thank you all for what you have done for us and giving him a chance to grow in front of our eyes! Thank you Dr. Mah, Dr. Baird, and Dr. de Ferranti we owe you the world.
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  • Heart Center at Boston Children's Hospital

    5 years ago today, I placed my one week old son in Dr. Emani's hands to repair his COA. I remember it like it was yesterday, and I'm thankful every day for the care we received at the Heart Center at Boston Children's Hospital.
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  • Heart Center at Boston Children's Hospital

    1 year ago today Dr Baird performed open heart surgery on Cayman. It did NOT slow him down. Today his heart is as good as new and he barely even has a scar. Thank you Dr Baird and everyone on the cardiac floor at Boston Children's Hospital.
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  • Heart Center at Boston Children's Hospital

    Two years ago today we were at Boston Children's Hospital and our daughter, Emily, was having an aortic stent placed. We were told it would have to be replaced by the time she turned 2 (which was last June) but its still in place and working beautifully. We thank God every day for the amazing work of Dr. Gerald Marx and Dr. James Lock.
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  • Heart Center at Boston Children's Hospital

    This weekend we celebrated our beautiful daughter, Mikayla's 1st birthday and that’s thanks to the amazing surgeons and staff on the 8th floor!! Mikayla was born with a rare diagnosis of Pentalogy of Cantrell which included several heart defects.
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Support Boston Children's Heart Center

Contact the Fetal Cardiology Program

Fetal Cardiology Program Evaluation And Diagnosis

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At your first appointment, your cardiologist will use advanced diagnostic tests to determine the health of your baby's heart. A congenital heart defect (CHD) is a heart problem that occurs while the heart is still developing and is present at birth. Defects can range from holes between heart chambers to more severe defects, such as a blocked heart valve or heart chambers that are underdeveloped.

Heart defects can sometimes be detected using a specialized cardiac ultrasound called echocardiography.

Other tests we may perform include:

  • Amniocentesis:This test is performed by obstetricians and is used to obtain amniotic fluid which can be used for genetic and other diagnostic tests.
  • Fetal ultrasound: This is a routine, painless test that provides general information about the growth of your baby, and the structure and function of the baby's organs.
  • Fetal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): This test produces detailed images of your baby's organs and structures within the body. MRI is mainly used to obtain detailed images of the fetal chest, abdomen and brain.
  • Fetal echocardiogram: This is a highly specialized, detailed ultrasound examination of your baby's heart. It's usually performed if a heart defect is suspected or needs to be ruled out.

How early in my pregnancy can a heart defect be detected? 

Heart defects are typically detected when a fetus is 16 to 22 weeks old, since this is the usual age at which most pregnant women undergo a screening obstetric ultrasound. Some serious heart defects can be detected as early as 14 weeks.

How are congenital heart defects diagnosed?

Fetal ultrasounds are performed in most pregnant women to monitor fetal growth and to detect abnormalities. Serious congenital heart defects can be found during routine fetal ultrasounds. If your baby has potential risk factors, like a family history of heart disease, our cardiologists can carefully examine your baby's heart.

When are diagnostic tests necessary?

Most women will have a second trimester ultrasound by an obstetrician or radiologist that evaluates the heart in addition to the rest of the fetus. This is sufficient in most cases. It is not necessary for all pregnancies to undergo fetal echocardiography unless the ultrasound detects a heart abnormality.

Situations in which a fetal echocardiogram may be necessary include:

  • if a routine prenatal ultrasound has discovered possible heart abnormalities
  • if a sibling was born with a congenital heart defect
  • if there is a family history of congenital heart disease (such as parents, aunts, uncles or grandparents)
  • if a chromosomal or genetic abnormality is discovered in the fetus
  • if a mother has taken certain medications that may cause congenital heart defects, such as anti-seizure medications, Lithium or prescription acne medications
  • if the mother has abused alcohol or drugs during pregnancy
  • if a mother has diabetes or a connective tissue disease such as lupus
  • if the mother has had rubella during pregnanc
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- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO
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