1. Patient Resources
  2. Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I high risk?
What is a perinatologist?
What is dysmorphology?
Am I high risk?

You may be considered high risk if you have any of the following:

Current Medical Conditions or History of:

  • Hereditary anemia
  • Asthma
  • Heart disease
  • Prior pulmonary embolus
  • Prior deep venous thrombosis or history of blood-clotting disorder (e.g., protein S, protein C deficiency, etc.)
  • A blood-clotting disorder or if you are taking blood thinners
  • Severe lung disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Connective tissue disorders like lupus
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Abnormality of uterus

Prior Pregnancy with:

  • Intrauterine fetal death
  • Death of a new born
  • Baby born with anomalies
  • Multiple pregnancy losses
  • Incompetent cervix
  • Preterm labor or premature delivery
  • History of chromosomal abnormality

Current Pregnancy with:

  • Poor fetal growth
  • Suspected fetal malformation/birth defects
  • Decreased fluid around the fetus
  • Twins, triplets or more
  • Preeclampsia
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Gestational diabetes

You may also be considered high risk if you require medications that may be harmful to the fetus.

What is a perinatologist?

A perinatologist is an obstetrician who has special training in maternal-fetal medicine or high-risk obstetrics. The perinatologists at the San Diego Perinatal Center are all board-certified obstetricians (and therefore, fellows of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology), who are also board certified in the subspecialty of maternal-fetal medicine.

As perinatologists, we:

  • Provide total prenatal care for patients with both low- and high-risk pregnancies.
  • Provide consultation and recommendations for pregnant patients under the care of another health care provider.
  • Perform detailed ultrasounds for pregnant women with or without a referral.
  • Provide genetic screening and prenatal diagnostic services as a designated California state prenatal diagnosis center.
  • Provide preconception counseling to assess overall health and pregnancy-related risks, and make recommendations to help with future pregnancies.

Our dedicated team of specialists collaborates with each other, with our patients and with other healthcare providers to ensure the highest level of care for pregnant women or women thinking about getting pregnant.

Our patients deliver at the Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns. A perinatologist, a neonatologist (high-risk specialists for premature and newborn babies) and a anesthesiologist are always available, even on holidays.

What is dysmorphology?

Dysmorphology is the study of birth defects. Birth defects may result from environmental exposures, genetic causes or a combination of external and genetic factors. A dysmorphologist tries to determine what caused a problem and how to manage it.

What type of doctor is a dysmorphologist?

A dysmorphologist is a board-certified pediatrician who has spent two to three additional years in training focusing on the causes, treatment and prevention of birth defects.

A dysmorphologist:

  • Gathers information such as the family history and pregnancy history.
  • Evaluates any developmental or structural problems detected prenatally or postnatally.
  • Interprets available information from the viewpoint of developmental anatomy (i.e. Did the abnormality occur before birth (prenatally) or begin after birth (postnatally)?  If prenatally, how early in fetal development did the problem occur? If there is more than one structural birth defect, is it part of an overall pattern of malformations or specific syndromes? Could the birth defect be caused by a single defect that then leads to a sequence of problems in development?).
  • Attempts to arrive at a specific diagnosis.
  • May recommend tests to confirm and/or rule out a diagnosis.
  • When possible, provides information regarding how the problem came about, the natural course of the condition and what may be done to assist the child before or after birth.
  • Discusses the chances that such a problem may occur again in a future pregnancy.
  • Discusses any measures that might be taken to reduce the risk or prevent a recurrence (i.e. extra folic acid to reduce the risk for a neural tube defect).
  • Discusses any prenatal procedures (i.e. CVS, amniocentesis, ultrasound) or genetic tests (such as chromosomes, DNA studies) that might detect a recurrence early in the pregnancy.
  • Provides consultation and follow-up as needed after birth for children born with malformations or specific syndromes requiring their unique expertise.

How do I know if I need to see a dysmorphologist?

If indicated, an appointment will be arranged by one of our perinatologists or a genetic counselor on our staff.