Congenital heart defects are the most common form of birth defect in the United States, and one of the leading causes of death within the first year of life.
When congenital heart defects are detected before birth, outcomes can be significantly improved.
A fetal echocardiogram is a test administered through an ultrasound that allows doctors to examine the heart of the fetus and detect or rule out any major heart defects before the infant is born.
Fetal echocardiograms are most commonly recommended for individuals who fall into the high risk category.
Often, if the patient’s OB/GYN suspects a problem with the baby’s heart or other organs, or if there is a family history of congenital heart disease, they will order the test.
Mothers who are of advanced maternal age (35+), have diabetes or an autoimmune disease, such as lupus, have a maternal infection during pregnancy, have been exposed to drugs that may cause problems for the baby’s heart, or have undergone in vitro fertilization are also considered ‘high-risk’.
A fetal echocardiogram is a non-invasive test that can be potentially life-saving. If a major heart defect is detected through this test, it gives pediatric cardiologists the chance to educate the expectant individual or family about the disease to better prepare them for what to expect, as well as develop a treatment plan that can be put into place immediately upon birth, which improves the chance of a successful outcome.
Our community is fortunate, as Cone Health network has an exceptional network of obstetrics and gynecology specialists, pediatric cardiologists and other related medical professionals that work together to provide the best possible treatment, and ensure the safety and health of expectant individuals and families throughout the area.
Dr. Greg Tatum is a pediatric cardiologist at Duke Children’s Cardiology of Greensboro and a member of the Cone Health medical staff.
Dr. Tatum earned his Doctor of Medicine from Mayo Medical School in Rochester, MN in 1999.
He completed his residency in pediatrics, as well as a fellowship in neonatal-perinatal medicine at University of North Carolina Hospitals.
He also completed a fellowship in pediatric cardiology at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC in 2006.