International Conference Highlights Prenatal Advances

Published on in CHOP News

March 16, 2011 — An international group of more than 300 medical experts gathers today to discuss the most current advances in prenatal diagnosis and treatment of birth defects.

About one in every 33 babies born each year in the United States has some type of major birth defect. Birth defects are also the leading cause of infant death.

One of the largest courses on advances in fetal diagnosis and treatment

The Update on Prenatal Diagnosis and Treatment of Fetal Anomalies conference occurs in Philadelphia today through March 19. Sponsored by the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment and the Division of Pediatric General, Thoracic and Fetal Surgery at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the conference is one of the largest, multidisciplinary courses devoted to advances in the diagnosis and treatment of a broad spectrum of fetal anomalies.

“Since its inception in 1995, the mission of the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has been to provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art care for both mother and fetus. The Center is pleased to sponsor this four-day multidisciplinary educational forum to exchange the most current research and practice innovations in this field, ” said N. Scott Adzick, MD, surgeon-in-chief at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and co-founder and director of Children’s Hospital’s Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

In celebration of the Center’s 15th anniversary, the conference highlights significant evolution and innovation in the field of fetal therapy. This year’s conference will bring together experts from prenatal through postnatal management of mothers, fetuses and children with fetal anomalies and present the latest breakthroughs in care — from genetic testing and fetal intervention to support for families and long-term postnatal outcomes. Only last month, for instance, a landmark, federally sponsored clinical trial, co-led by the Center, reported substantially improved outcomes in children who underwent prenatal surgery for spina bifida.

“This conference highlights the remarkable progress in diagnosing, managing and treating a broad variety of birth defects, which are increasingly being detected in the prenatal period,” said course director, Mark P. Johnson, MD, director of Obstetrical Services at the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment.

International attendance, experts in many disciplines 

Obstetricians, maternal-fetal medicine specialists, surgeons, neonatologists, cardiologists, anesthesiologists, radiologists, urologists, nursing professionals, genetic counselors, geneticists, sonographers and social workers from 28 states and 12 countries will participate in the four-day conference.

More than 70 individual presentations will take place including a comprehensive review of specific congenital anomalies, such as central nervous system defects, congenital diaphragmatic hernias, chest masses, gastrointestinal and genitourinary defects, congenital heart disease, and twin-twin transfusion syndrome.

About the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at CHOP

The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is an internationally recognized leader in fetal surgery and fetal care. One of the only programs of its kind in the world, it offers a comprehensive breadth of services, including fetal therapy, to support patients from prenatal evaluation through delivery, postnatal care, and long-term follow-up.

Established in 1995, the Center has welcomed more than 10,000 expectant parents and received referrals from all 50 states and more than 50 countries. Its multidisciplinary team brings decades of experience to the care and treatment of the fetus and the expectant mother. The Center has performed nearly 800 fetal surgeries, including complex open procedures for birth defects such as spina bifida; less invasive fetoscopic or ultrasound-guided surgeries for conditions such as twin-twin transfusion syndrome; and specialized coordinated delivery approaches for babies that require surgical intervention while still on maternal-placental life support (EXIT delivery). To facilitate its full spectrum of care, the Center is also home to the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit, the world’s first birthing unit created exclusively for pregnancies complicated by birth defects.


Ashley Moore, Department of Public Relations, 267-426-6071,