Fetal Cardiology Program

Expecting a baby can be an exciting time. It can also be stressful when parents learn their unborn baby might have a heart condition.

Our fetal cardiology experts provide exceptional medical care every step of the way. We also ensure you receive the emotional support you need during pregnancy, birth and beyond.

Fetal Cardiology Program: Why Choose Us

The Fetal Cardiology Program is part of our nationally ranked Heart Institute. Our program offers you:

  • Experts in fetal cardiology care: Our specialists have the experience and technology to accurately diagnose neonatal heart defects (abnormalities in a newborn’s heart). We also customize your treatment, so you receive personalized care during pregnancy, delivery and after your baby arrives. Meet our pediatric heart center team.
  • World-class congenital heart surgery: Under the leadership of Vaughn A. Starnes, MD, co-director of the Heart Institute, babies who need heart surgery are in the best possible hands. Dr. Starnes is known across the world for his breakthroughs in pediatric heart surgery. Learn more about cardiothoracic surgery at CHLA.
  • Advanced fetal echocardiography (fetal echo): A fetal echocardiogram is an ultrasound of your baby’s heart. Our pediatric cardiologists conduct all our fetal echocardiograms, so a doctor is there to help during the test. We use high-resolution ultrasound scans that diagnose heart defects with remarkable accuracy and detail.
  • Convenient care: We work closely with your other doctors, including your obstetrician and perinatologist, to ensure you get complete, seamless prenatal care. You can deliver your baby at the hospital of your choice and still get care from our fetal cardiology team before and after delivery.
  • Multidisciplinary team: We bring all the expertise needed for your baby’s care together as a team. We also have every pediatric specialty available, no matter your baby’s medical needs. This approach is why we’re one of the nation’s top-ranked children’s hospitals.
  • Fetal surgery: Our program works closely with LA Fetal Surgery to provide seamless care for families that need this specialized service. Our fetal cardiologists partner with the fetal surgeon to provide fetal cardiac surgery when needed.
  • State-of-the-art facilities: Opened in 2024, the Fetal Cardiac Clinic offers a one-stop shop for families in need of comprehensive prenatal diagnostic testing and counseling for cardiac anomalies. This unique space for expectant mothers and the fetal patient population offers the highest level of comprehensive care, provided by fetal cardiologists, fetal nurse care managers, fetal sonographers, cardiothoracic surgeons, interventional cardiologists, social workers, psychologists, and more.
  • State-of-the-art NICCU: Our Fetal and Neonatal Institute includes a level IV Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit (NICCU). Level IV NICCUs offer the highest level of care for babies with the most complex health conditions.

ICU Dedicated to Heart Care

Our Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit (CTICU) is the first and largest of its kind on the West Coast. The CTICU is an intensive care unit dedicated entirely to cardiac care. This specialization means we provide the best possible care for children before and after heart surgery.

Each child in the CTICU has immediate access to our team of experts. We focus on having a bedside presence for every child. Our large team includes:

  • Cardiac surgeons
  • Cardiac intensivists
  • Cardiologists
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Nurses 
  • Respiratory care practitioners

High-Risk Pregnancy Care

Our Fetal-Maternal Center provides you with a full spectrum of care during your pregnancy and up to delivery. We are one of the few centers in the U.S. that can provide this high level of comprehensive care. You have access to:

  • All pediatric subspecialists
  • Fetal MRI
  • Prenatal genetics and neonatology counseling
  • Prenatal surgical consultations

Your Comprehensive Fetal Cardiology Team

If your unborn baby has a heart condition, our team of experts is on your side. At CHLA, your fetal cardiology team includes:

  • Fetal cardiologists: Our fetal cardiologists are specially trained in diagnosing and treating congenital heart defects and heart diseases before birth.
  • Pediatric cardiologists: These doctors focus on caring for babies and children with heart conditions from birth to age 21 and beyond.
  • Pediatric cardiothoracic surgeons: Our expert cardiothoracic surgeons perform every all types of neonatal congenital heart surgery on newborn infants. Some of the highly complex surgeries we perform include Norwood procedures, truncus arteriosus repairs and arterial switch operations.
  • Maternal fetal medicine (MFM) specialists: Our MFM specialists are obstetricians who specialize in caring for women with complicated pregnancies.
  • Fetal surgeon: We work closely with an internationally recognized fetal surgeon. This surgeon performs delicate and complex surgery on fetuses while in the womb.
  • Nurse care managers: Our dedicated nurse care managers guide you through your customized treatment plan, including pregnancy care and delivery considerations.
  • Other CHLA specialists: Our fetal cardiology team collaborates with other pediatric sub-specialists, so you have expert care in every area of medicine. This team approach ensures you’re covered no matter what treatment you need.

Related Content