Fetal Cardiology Program: What to Expect

A key advantage of the Fetal Cardiology Program at Norton Children’s Heart Institute, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine, is that families are provided with a customized care plan ahead of delivery and one-on-one navigation through the process. Families are provided with education and a plan based on their child’s congenital heart defect and unique anatomy.

When Will I be Referred to a Fetal Cardiologist?

Pregnant women are most often referred to the Fetal Cardiology Program by their obstetricians or maternal-fetal medicine specialists when a routine ultrasound done during pregnancy cannot visualize the heart, a suspected cardiac abnormality is seen or when certain risk factors are present.

These include:

  • Abnormal heart rate or rhythm
  • An issue with the baby’s other organs, such as the brain or kidneys
  • Known or suspected chromosome abnormality
  • Excess fluid in the baby’s neck, skin or other organs
  • An issue with the umbilical cord or placenta
  • Twins who share a placenta

What Can I Expect?

Depending on the outcome of your fetal echocardiogram, you may:

  • Be referred back to your OB/GYN or maternal-fetal medicine specialist if no congenital heart defect is found
  • Be asked to follow up with a pediatric cardiologist for more diagnostic imaging after your child’s birth
  • Be asked to meet with the Norton Children’s Heart Institute team to create a customized care plan for your child

Receive a Plan Unique to Your Child’s Heart Journey

Norton Children’s Heart Institute is dedicated to helping you and your family have all of the tools and support you need to feel confident and prepared for your child’s arrival and care.

Should your child need specialized care such as heart surgery soon after birth, Norton Children’s Heart Institute will work with you and your maternal-fetal medicine provider to create a plan. This will include your delivery plans and care beyond your child’s arrival.

We provide a one-on-one consultation that includes a tour of our facilities and a meeting with many of our providers who will be key to your child’s care, including:

  • Fetal cardiologist
  • The cardiothoracic surgeon who will perform your child’s surgery
  • Neonatal intensive care unit providers
  • Cardiac intensive care unit providers
  • Your patient navigator, who will be with you at every step during your child’s journey

You’ll also receive an informational binder that gives you a guide to your child’s heart journey, including:

  • Your child’s diagnosis
  • A detailed model drawing of your child’s heart
  • How to get ready for your hospital stay
  • What to expect during different parts of hospitalization
  • Definition of staff roles and how they will care for your child
  • Hospital and area map, including eating options and places to stay
  • Information about MyNortonChart and Norton Children’s Pharmacy
  • How to care for your baby at different points in time — 24 to 48 hours after birth, before going home, etc.

Why Choose Norton Children’s Heart Institute

The Adult Congenital Heart Association has recognized Norton Children's Heart Institute for its expertise treating adult congenital heart disease.

  • Norton Children’s Hospital has been a pioneer in pediatric cardiothoracic surgery, performing Kentucky’s first pediatric heart transplant in 1986 and becoming the second site in the United States to perform an infant heart transplant.
  • The American Board of Thoracic Surgery has certified our cardiothoracic surgeons in congenital heart surgery.
  • The Adult Congenital Heart Association has accredited Norton Children’s Heart Institute’s Adult Congenital Heart Program as the only comprehensive care center in Kentucky and Indiana treating adults born with a heart defect.
  • More than 5,000 children a year visit Norton Children’s Heart Institute for advanced heart care.
  • Norton Children’s Heart Institute has offices across Kentucky and Southern Indiana to bring quality pediatric heart care closer to home.
  • The Jennifer Lawrence Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (CICU) at Norton Children’s Hospital is the largest dedicated CICU in Kentucky, equipped with 17 private rooms and the newest technology available for heart care.
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