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C. The Emerging Field of In Utero Surgery

Narrator: This is Science Today. Researchers in the emerging field of in utero surgery have determined that there is a larger window of time during the first trimester of pregnancy to repair facial defects in a fetus. Jill Helms, a professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, says her research suggests that fetal surgeons will have nine weeks after fertilization to attempt face-saving surgeries and treatments.

Helms: One of the interests we have is in the approach of using fetal surgery to correct craniofacial defects. And if you want to do something like that, you have to know, well, when did the defect arise? And what is the window in time in which this defect could be corrected?

Narrator: Helms says today most fetal surgery only correct fatal defects.

Helms: As surgical techniques are perfected and as ultrasound techniques are improved, and earlier diagnoses are able to be made of fetal defects, there's the possibility of starting to perform in-utero surgeries to correct maybe much more mild defects.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.