Many families face those challenging circumstances at some time. As many as 10 to 15 percent of confirmed pregnancies nationwide are lost at various points, and for every 1,000 babies born, six experience life-threatening medical problems in their first year, such as birth defects, preterm birth and maternal complications of pregnancy among the leading causes. The U.S. birth rate for twins – often a source of obstetric complications – grew 76 percent between 1980 and 2009 to a level around 3 percent, due at least in part to increased use of fertility drugs and treatments.

Fetal surgery can offer hope of correcting or minimizing a variety of life-threatening or potentially disabling conditions affecting the fetus, helping to both facilitate delivery of a healthy child and protect the health of the mother.

For certain conditions it now represents the standard of care – for example in myelomeningocele, the most serious form of spina bifida that can limit a child’s future mobility, learning ability and bowel/bladder function. Surgery is also standard for twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a condition in which blood flow between twins becomes abnormal. Benefits for both conditions have been proven in randomized clinical trials.

For other conditions, prenatal surgery represents a new and powerful option for physicians and parents to consider as they seek to balance potential impacts to the mother’s health against those of the new child.

Some of the conditions we can diagnose and treat include:

  • Amniotic band syndrome
  • Congenital diaphragmatic hernia
  • Gastroschisis
  • Sacrococcygeal teratoma
  • Spina bifida, or myelomenigocele
  • Twin–twin transfusion syndrome
  • Twin reversed arterial perfusion syndrome

Among the nation’s best

UC Davis Children’s Hospital, together with Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California, is rated among the top 50 in pediatric urology and pediatric orthopaedics in the U.S. News & World Report 2015–16 Best Hospitals analysis.

UC Davis Children’s Hospital also achieved top-50 U.S. News rankings in neonatology, pediatric diabetes and endocrinology, pediatric neurology and neurosurgery, and gynecology.

The rankings generally recognize hospitals that excel in treating patients with the most serious and challenging injuries and illnesses.

In addition, UC Davis Children’s Hospital is the first hospital on the West Coast, and only the fourth in the nation, to earn verification as a level I children’s surgery center by the American College of Surgeons.