Fetal Surgery Takes a Huge Step Forward in Treating Children with Spina Bifida

Adzick added that this demonstrated success for fetal surgery may broaden its application to other birth defects, many of which are rarer but more uniformly lethal than spina bifida. Children’s Hospital’s comprehensive center already offers fetal surgery for selected life-threatening fetal conditions.

The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia began performing fetal surgery for spina bifida in 1998, three years after Adzick launched the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment. The Center’s reports of neurological improvements in spina bifida, based on 58 fetal surgeries through 2003, helped lay the groundwork for the MOMS trial. For Adzick, who has been working to advance fetal surgery since performing preclinical studies in the early 1980s, “It’s very gratifying to take this idea forward over 30 years, starting with a concept and now offering hope—to families, mothers and the children themselves.”

This trial was sponsored by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Additional funding for spina bifida research at the CFDT at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was provided by Katherine and Michael Mulligan, the March of Dimes Foundation and the Spina Bifida Association.

“A Randomized Trial of Prenatal versus Postnatal Repair of Myelomeningocele,” New England Journal of Medicine, Online First, Feb. 9, 2011 (to appear March 24, 2011 in print edition).

The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia is an internationally recognized leader in fetal surgery and fetal care. One of the only programs of its kind in the world, it offers a comprehensive breadth of services, including fetal therapy, to support patients from prenatal evaluation through delivery, postnatal care, and long-term follow-up. Established in 1995, the Center has welcomed more than 10,000 expectant parents and received referrals from all 50 states and more than 50 countries. Its multidisciplinary team brings decades of experience to the care and treatment of the fetus and the expectant mother. The Center has performed nearly 800 fetal surgeries, including complex open procedures for birth defects such as spina bifida; less invasive fetoscopic or ultrasound-guided surgeries for conditions such as twin-twin transfusion syndrome; and specialized coordinated delivery approaches for babies that require surgical intervention while still on maternal-placental life support (EXIT delivery). To facilitate its full spectrum of care, the Center is also home to the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit, the world’s first birthing unit created exclusively for pregnancies complicated by birth defects. For more information, please visit fetalsurgery.chop.edu

About The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation’s first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children’s Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program is among the largest in the country, ranking third in National Institutes of Health funding. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 460-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents.


Source: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

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