Masthead small

SMFM State of Pregnancy Monograph

First recognized by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1973 the subspecialty of Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) grew from a need to care for increasingly complicated pregnancies and from emerging technologies that provided greater opportunity to evaluate and treat problems involving the fetus.

Maternal-fetal medicine specialists are the leaders in high-risk obstetric care and serve as consultants to general obstetricians family practitioners nurse practitioners and midwives. With additional years of subspecialty training after completion of residency maternal-fetal medicine specialists care for pregnant women who have illnesses such as diabetes hypertension and heart disease. Maternal-fetal medicine specialists also utilize new diagnostic tools and treatments to optimize care and pregnancy outcomes. Technologic advances such as obstetric ultrasonography have revolutionized the management of pregnancy by providing a window into the womb and allowing identification of previously unknown problems in the fetus. The field of prenatal genetic diagnosis has evolved rapidly and the application of knowledge from this arena requires an increasingly in-depth understanding. Even more challenging and exciting has been the opportunity to perform procedures directly on the fetus to improve the chance of survival or avoid serious complications following birth. In addition to caring for women with high-risk pregnancies maternal-fetal medicine specialists are leaders in medical education in obstetrics and in research that identifies better ways to evaluate and care for pregnant women and their fetuses.

This monograph was written to provide a clearer understanding who maternal-fetal medicine specialists are and what we do. It offers examples of the kinds of patients cared for by maternal-fetal medicine specialists and what is done for them. This monograph highlights important research that has emerged to improve the outcomes of mothers and babies and describes the challenges that face us as we strive to provide optimal pregnancy outcomes for mothers and their babies.

Sarah J. Kilpatrick MD, PhD    
President The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine         
Theresa S. Falcon-Cullinan Professor and Head
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology    
Vice Dean College of Medicine
University of Illinois at Chicago

Thomas J. Garite MD
Chair SMFM Foundation Board of Directors
Professor Emeritus
University of California Irvine