Perinatology is a subspecialty of obstetrics concerned with the care of the fetus and complicated, high-risk pregnancies. Perinatology is also known as maternal-fetal medicine.
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.