Heart Institute

The Fetal Cardiology Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado


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As part of her first visit, a pregnant mom gets a fetal echocardiogram (ECHO). Using this test, fetal cardiologists like Dr. Howley (pictured above right) are able to diagnose a baby's structural and rhythmic heart problems before birth.

The Fetal Cardiology Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado specializes in congenital heart diseases (heart conditions present at or before birth) in the unborn baby.

Our program includes:

  • A team of expert cardiologists trained in the evaluation and diagnosis of fetal heart problems
  • Careful planning of a mom’s delivery that includes staying in close contact with your obstetrician/gynecology (OB/GYN) doctor
  • Complete care of your newborn following delivery, with access to the nationally recognized medical care of Children’s Colorado cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery teams
  • Support to help your family prepare for the arrival of its newest member

What to expect at a pregnant mother’s first visit

During your first visit, you will meet with a fetal cardiologist who specializes in congenital heart disease. Moms will also receive a fetal echocardiogram, which is a safe, noninvasive ultrasound performed to evaluate your unborn baby's heart.

If a heart problem is identified in your unborn baby, further services we provide include:

  • Patient education and care coordination by a dedicated Fetal Cardiology Program coordinator 
  • Consultations with other services at Children's Hospital Colorado, which may include cardiothoracic surgery, genetics and social services, as well as with maternal-fetal and neonatal specialists at the Colorado Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health 
  • The opportunity to meet other members of your baby’s care team

After delivery, your baby will be cared for at the Heart Institute within Children’s Hospital Colorado. Should your newborn require surgery, our cardiothoracic surgeons can perform even the most complex surgery for congenital heart disease.

Why choose Children’s Hospital Colorado Fetal Cardiology Program?

Congenital heart disease is the most common disorder of newborns, affecting one out of every 100 babies. Prenatal screening for heart disease can optimize your unborn baby’s health, medical care and delivery.

Caring for heart problems before and after birth

Our Fetal Cardiology Program is the only one of its kind in Colorado, with specialized training in the detection of heart abnormalities in unborn babies. Doctors in our program have the unique ability to examine the fetal heart as early as 14 weeks gestation, and then care for that child through adulthood.

Expert care from the Colorado Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health

Fetal cardiologists from the Heart Institute work closely with maternal-fetal and neonatal specialists at the Colorado Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health, a comprehensive maternal-fetal program serving the special needs of mothers and newborns. This program is built on more than 30 years of partnership between University of Colorado Hospital, Children's Hospital Colorado and University of Colorado School of Medicine. Learn more about this program for expectant mothers.