Less than 50% of congenital heart disease is found before birth. As a result, some of these babies become critically ill following birth until the diagnosis of heart disease is made. Late identification of heart disease places lives in jeopardy. Unfortunately, mothers from poor and minority groups are less likely to be referred to have prenatal testing that allows for the diagnosis of heart disease. This is unfortunate as identifying these infants prior to birth can save lives of children and allows us to take the lead in their care early in life. Prenatal identification of congenital heart disease lessens the chance that infants will become critically ill as a result of their heart disease and improves their chance of survival.

The program consists of a coordinated service led by Pediatric/Fetal Cardiologists in collaboration with maternal fetal medicine, neonatal intensive care unit, cardiac surgery and catheterization and other pediatric services. Doctors make the diagnosis of congenital heart disease using advance cardiac imaging – fetal echocardiography. The presence in many birthing centers leads to direct care of those with congenital heart disease before they are born. It also allows MGHfC to provide outreach to teach other specialties regarding prenatal detection of congenital heart disease and informing them about populations who may be at risk for under-diagnosis of heart disease.