Mumbai: The number of cases of congenital abnormalities in unborn children have become a matter of concern for prospective parents. To aid early detection of congenital abnormalities and care of unborn children, Wadia Hospital has taken an initiative by launching a perinatology clinic with a team of 8 doctors from fetal medicine and various sub-specialties in pediatrics like cardiology, neurology, surgery, nephrology, orthopedics amongst others, to provide proper diagnosis and counsel the parents. The clinic has already helped detected over 100 cases.
Most babies are born healthy. But, when a baby has a condition that is present from birth then it is called a congenital defect and may cause infant and childhood deaths, chronic illness, and even disability. Over years, Wadia Hospital has created awareness among the patients regarding congenital defects with the help of expertise and the latest technology. Around 1,000 foetal echocardiographies performed on a yearly basis, almost 50% have abnormalities. 83 cases with defected were reported in 2015-16 while 175 in 2016-17. The number doubled in 2017-18 when the number was 375. In 2018-19, 617 cases were seen, and in 2019-20, 600. These figures are harrowing. Hence, a perinatology clinic was introduced as a one-stop solution.
Dr Purnima Satoskar, gynaecologist and obstetrician at Wadia Hospital, highlighted, “The aim of this clinic is to offer affordable, holistic, multidisciplinary care to the unborn child with congenital abnormalities; right from diagnosis in the womb until the treatment is completed. All high-risk cases /pregnancies are referred to the perinatology OPD for an initial assessment and further advanced evaluations like fetal echocardiography and genetic testing are advised by the team of specialists.”
The potential parents are then counseled together about the diagnosis, treatment plan, and long term outcome of the baby,” said Dr Sumitra Venkatesh, paediatric cardiologist at Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital.
Dr Satoskar said, “These days, it is possible to suspect a congenital anomaly as early as 11 to 14 weeks on the routine sonography owing to the availability of advanced technologies. The services offered in this OPD prepare the couple mentally and financially to deal with the problem as compared to a crisis situation when diagnosed after birth.”
“At times, if multiple malformations involving kidneys, spine, and brain are detected in the same fetus, which is not surgically correctible or curable, then the couple may opt for termination of pregnancy within the legal framework,” said Dr Shilpa Kulkarni, paediatric neurologist at Wadia Hospital.
Genetic disorders should be taken into consideration while planning a second pregnancy. In case, of the parents or even the first child has a genetic defect, we can test for the condition in the first trimester in subsequent pregnancies with the help of a chronic biopsy.
“With the various advancements in diagnosis and excellent management of Paediatric diseases offered by the Wadia hospitals, it is a natural progression and also the need of the hour for us to aim for an earlier diagnosis to offer better care and outcome to even the unborn patient, the foetus. We are very happy to announce the commencement of Perinatology Opd services in NWMH, which is a collaborative initiative by the Foetal medicine team at the Maternity hospital and the various specialty teams at the Children’s hospital. This aims to make life much easier for the parents and also the newborn baby, by counseling them in detail about the disease condition and its prognosis, offering them the choice of available treatment, and empowering the parents to make the right and timely decisions. All this happens under one roof, without the need for the already stressed-out parents to run to multiple experts around the city. This OPD functions once a week for now, but owing to a surge in numbers of high-risk pregnancies and babies with congenital problems, we will soon make it twice a week,” concluded CEO Dr Minnie Bodhanwala.