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Expert care for fetal conditions

Fetal conditions refer to any of the defects that begin in the womb. Most fetal conditions develop within the first three months of pregnancy. Babies born with birth defects may need prompt treatment to save their life or prevent serious complications later in life.

Dignity Health Central California physicians deliver comprehensive maternity care, offering both prevention and treatment services for many birth defects. During your pregnancy, you can rely on our dedicated specialists for prenatal testing that detect fetal abnormalities, as well as expert maternal-fetal medicine to care for fetal conditions that occur before your delivery.


Types of fetal conditions

Some fetal conditions are more common than others. Heart defects are the most prevalent. 

Expert specialists at Dignity Health offer treatment for common fetal conditions, including: 


Causes of fetal abnormalities

Many causes of fetal abnormalities are controllable, while others are not. In some cases, the cause is unknown.

Research shows that the following factors cause fetal abnormalities:

  • Alcohol use, which can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome
  • Drug use, including tobacco or street drugs
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Genetic abnormalities, which are passed down through generations
  • Infections


Preventing & treating birth defects

Treatment largely begins with preventing birth defects. To help ensure a healthy pregnancy, your doctor may help you control maternal conditions, such as gestational diabetes. Your prevention plan may also include changes in any medications you take and support with quitting drugs or alcohol.

You can reduce your risk of fetal conditions by: 

  • Not drinking alcohol or taking other drugs
  • Maintaining up-to-date immunizations, which can prevent infections
  • Taking a multivitamin containing at least 400 micrograms of folic acid

After birth, treatment for fetal conditions will focus on healing the condition, preventing complications, and ensuring normal development. This may include NICU care, surgery, or ongoing medical treatment to heal or ease the symptoms.

Read our recommended health tips for pregnancy and trust the physicians with Dignity Health for all of your pregnancy needs.

Dignity Health Central California offers preventative and advanced treatment services for babies with birth defects in Bakersfield, Merced, and Stockton, CA.

Learn more about the Lauren Small Children's Center

Lauren's Story

The Lauren Small Children's center is named after Lauren Paige Small, a Bakersfield girl who inspired the community through her brave two-year battle with cancer.

Read Lauren's story