A subspecialty of obstetrics concerned with the care of the fetus and
complicated, high-risk pregnancies. Perinatology is also known as
Some of the services provided by the maternal-fetal specialist include
diabetes care, management of multiple gestations, comprehensive
ultrasound, chorionic villus sampling, genetic amniocentesis, and fetal
surgery or treatment.
In addition to four years of residency training in obstetrics and
gynecology, the maternal-fetal medicine specialists undergo an
additional 2-3 years of specialized training in the assessment and
management of high-risk pregnancies. As a result, they are able to take
care of pregnant women who have special medical problems (e.g. heart or
kidney disease, hypertension, diabetes, and thrombophilia), pregnant
women who are at risk for pregnancy-related complications (e.g. preterm
labor, pre-eclampsia, and twin or triplet pregnancies), and pregnant
women with fetuses at risk. Fetuses may be at risk because of
chromosomal or congenital abnormalities, maternal disease, infections,
genetic diseases, and growth restriction.
A high-risk baby might be cared for by a perinatologist before birth and by a neonatologist after birth.