Birth defects happen in about one in every few hundred pregnancies. If a fetal anomaly is discovered during your pregnancy, you may be referred to a pediatric surgeon prior to the delivery of your baby. In these consultations, the surgeon will explain more about the particular anomaly, how it may affect your child, and how it may be repaired. In some anomalies, there are even options for fetal surgery – surgery prior to the birth of the baby!
Birth defects of the brain and spine happen when there is injury or abnormal development of the early nervous system. These abnormalities may be caused by genetic conditions, abnormal chromosomes, and exposure to some medications, infections, and radiation.
But sometimes birth defects occur for no apparent reason.
Spina bifida and ventriculomegaly (fluid in the brain) are the most common conditions that may require surgery in the newborn period. If you are expecting a baby with a spine or brain abnormality, you may be referred to a pediatric neurosurgeon to talk about what will happen after your baby is delivered.
In today’s video, we meet Dr. Ian Heger, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Medical City Children’s Hospital in Dallas, Texas. He takes care of babies and kids with conditions like spina bifida, ventriculomegaly (hydrocephalus), tumors, and other brain and spine abnormalities. In our interview, we talk about different conditions that he treats, and what he discusses with parents when they are referred for prenatal consultations. He likes to meet with parents before the baby is delivered. He says that although all your questions can’t be answered until the baby is born, some plans can be made. Even if the plan of care may change, you may at least get to know what your surgeon is thinking and what might happen once the baby is born. You can talk about things like:
What kinds of tests will the baby need?
Will I be able to stay with my baby?
If my baby needs surgery, what does that look like? When would surgery happen?
How long might my baby be in the hospital?
What are long term outcomes like for babies with this condition?
I really enjoyed talking with Dr. Heger! I hope our interview helps give you a peek into how we prepare parents who are expecting a child with a neurologic condition.
In the coming weeks, I will be interviewing more specialists that your baby might meet. Neonatologists, pediatric cardiologists, geneticists, pediatric heart surgeons – subscribe now so you don’t miss any vital information.