Fetal Heart Program

Heart care and compassion starting before birth

About one in one hundred babies is born with a heart problem (congenital heart defect or disease). An estimated half of these defects can be detected and expertly diagnosed before birth, opening the door to timely treatment and optimal outcomes. Hundreds of families each year trust experts with the Fetal Heart Program within Herma Heart Center at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin to provide the best possible care through pregnancy, birth and beyond for babies with congenital heart disease.

Expertise and support you can trust

Parents have a lot to think about when they learn that their unborn baby faces challenges associated with congenital heart disease. As one of the nation’s top fetal cardiac programs, we’ve helped hundreds of families find the expert care and support they need. We work with the Fetal Concerns Program at Children’s Hospital and the Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin Birth Center to coordinate all of your care needs. Our services include:

  • Fetal echocardiography (fetal ultrasound or fetal echo), to assess an unborn baby’s heart structure, rhythm, and function.
  • Guidance from nurse care coordinators specifically trained to care for unborn babies and their families.
  • Support from social workers and other resources to meet a family’s current and future needs, including financial and insurance concerns.
  • Consultation with fetal cardiologists and other program physicians regarding treatment options.
  • Onsite labor and delivery to keep families close and reduce the time it takes to get a fragile newborn to an appropriate setting for high level care, which improves outcomes.
  • A highly specialized, experienced Children's Transport Team available 24 hours a day to transport critically sick newborns to our program from other hospitals.
  • Expert treatment, including pediatric heart surgery, if needed, for common to complex congenital heart conditions such as hypoplastic left heart syndrome.

Fetal cardiac physician specialists

Our fetal cardiologists, pediatric cardiologists, pediatric heart surgeons, cardiac intensive care specialists, and neonatologists (specialists in newborn care) are expertly trained. These highly credentialed leaders in their fields are experienced and use their expertise and compassion on all of our patients. Fetal cardiac physicians consistently rank among the Best Doctors in America and strongly contribute to research innovations that lead to life-saving treatment advances.

Fetal care specialists see patients in locations throughout Wisconsin including Milwaukee and Green Bay.

State-of-the-art diagnostics

Fetal cardiologists are trained to perform and interpret cardiac ultrasounds before a baby is born. Our Fetal Heart Program physicians use the most advanced fetal ultrasound (fetal echocardiography) techniques to shape a thorough diagnosis. We’re also one of the few programs in the country to offer fetal magnetocardiography (fMCG), which uses extremely sensitive equipment to more accurately assess the heart rhythm and rate of an unborn baby.

Your baby’s treatment

Beginning with the initial diagnosis, staff explain care options and possible outcomes based on research so your family can make fully informed choices that are best for you. You will feel confident knowing that all caregivers at Children’s are dedicated to caring for little ones – even before they are born.

We’re one of the busiest and most successful pediatric heart surgery programs in the country. Research shows that physicians and hospitals that treat a large number of patients tend to provide better care and have improved outcomes for treatments and procedures.

Why choose us?

Partnership with the Fetal Concerns Center of Wisconsin

The Fetal Concerns Center of Wisconsin is an initiative of Children's Hospital and Froedtert & The Medical College. The center provides a complete range of care for women with pregnancies complicated by a possible congenital defect. Together, families and staff can anticipate needs and plan treatment, which improves the care at birth.

In partnership with the Fetal Cardiac Program, the Fetal Concerns Center offers services including:

  • Diagnosis of birth defects and health concerns in unborn babies using fetal echo, fetal magnetocardiography, and other tools.
  • Coordinated medical care for mother and baby, through pregnancy, delivery, and newborn care — with a multidisciplinary team including pediatric cardiologists, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, neonatologists, surgeons, nursing staff, child life specialists, lactation consultants and social workers.
  • Consultation with maternal-fetal medicine specialists.
  • Nursing coordinators who help arrange follow-up visits, provide feedback to referring health care providers and, if necessary, arrange delivery at Froedtert & The Medical College Birth Center.

Onsite birthing center

The Froedtert & Medical College Birth Center is conveniently located inside Children's Hospital. By reducing the time it takes to get a fragile newborn to an appropriate setting for high-level care, outcome can be improved. This arrangement also keeps the mother and baby close together and gives family members the convenient option to drive to one hospital location instead of two different medical centers.

Giving birth and becoming a parent are exciting milestones in your life. The Froedtert & The Medical College Birth Center provides the safest of care throughout labor, delivery, and recovery. If necessary, newborns can receive state-of-the-art care in the nearby neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), plus the full range of pediatric medical and surgical care.

Expertise in complex congenital heart disease conditions

Our physicians that care for children with congenital heart disease are the most respected in the United States. If you have been given a prenatal diagnosis for these and other cardiac conditions, we can help.

  • Atrial septal defect (ASD)
  • Ventricular septal defect (VSD)
  • Aortic Stenosis
  • Pulmonary Stenosis
  • Coarctation of the Aorta
  • Tetralogy of Fallot (TOF)
  • Transposition of the Great Vessels (TGV or TGA)
  • Tricuspid Atresia (TA)
  • Pulmonary Atresia (PA)
  • Total Anomalous Pulmonary Venous Connection (TAPVC or TAPVR)
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS)

We offer the only nationally ranked children's heart program in Wisconsin

The Fetal Heart Program at Children’s is part of Herma Heart Center, ranked #7 in the nation for pediatric heart care by Parents magazine and among the nation's best in U.S. News & World Report's 2013-14 Best Children's Hospitals report. We are the only pediatric heart program in the state to be ranked on these lists and the only Wisconsin program to offer pediatric heart transplants and many other advanced cardiac treatment options for children before and after birth. We’re committed to being the best in all we do – especially in caring for you and your baby.

Survival rates among best in the country

We carefully monitor our quality outcomes and survival rates and know they are some of the best in the country. We consistently rank among the best programs in the country for surgical survival rates.

We have the best published survival rates worldwide for treating hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS), an uncommon congenital heart disease. Hospitals throughout the world use monitoring tools we pioneered as best practice for increasing survival rates among babies with HLHS.

We’re one of nation’s busiest pediatric heart surgery programs

Our board-certified congenital heart disease surgeons perform nearly 800 pediatric heart surgeries a year, many times more than any other program in the state. In fact, we are one of the busiest pediatric heart surgery centers in the country. Research shows that physicians and hospitals that treat a large number of patients tend to provide better care and have improved outcomes for treatments and procedures.