Obstetric management, tests, and technologies that impact childhood development

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Childhood brain development begins before birth, and obstetric management, tests, and technologies designed to diagnose and treat fetal conditions can have an impact on development. Preconception counseling for maternal diabetes and hypertension affect the risk of fetal congenital anomalies and growth restriction. Patients with risk factors for pre-existing maternal diabetes are offered early diabetic screening because earlier diagnosis and treatment can decrease the risk of fetal and neonatal complications. Screening for chromosomal abnormalities in the first or second trimester is offered to all females regardless of age. Cell-free fetal DNA screening can be used to test for fetal genetic abnormalities as early as 9 weeks of gestation with results available in 10 days. Ultrasound performed around 20 weeks' gestation can identify the 3% of fetuses that have a major congenital malformation. Fetal magnetic resonance imaging can be used to better assess fetal central nervous system abnormalities when neurosonography is inconclusive. Doppler ultrasound can be used to assess blood flow in the umbilical artery and fetal middle cerebral artery to aid in the management of the growth-restricted fetus. In summary, diagnosis and treatment of maternal and fetal conditions from the preconception period throughout pregnancy are important for optimizing fetal health and provide the best opportunity for optimal child development. What this paper adds: Cell-free fetal DNA screening can identify fetal genetic abnormalities as early as 9 weeks’ gestation. Ultrasound performed around 20 weeks’ gestation can detect major fetal congenital malformations. Fetal magnetic resonance imaging can aid neurosonography in the assessment of fetal central nervous system abnormalities. Doppler ultrasound to assess fetal blood flow is used to successfully manage the growth-restricted fetus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1002-1007
Number of pages6
JournalDevelopmental medicine and child neurology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology


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