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C. Interventions Used to Treat Fetal Heart Disease

Narrator: This is Science Today. Fetal heart disease is an abnormality of a fetus' heart whether it is a structural defect, a rhythm disturbance or a functional problem with the heart squeeze or filling. Dr. Lisa Hornberger, director of the Fetal Cardiovascular Program at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, says today, problems such as rhythm disturbances, can be treated before birth.

Hornberger: We've learned that we can actually treat the babies for this problem by giving moms medication that are safe, that cross the placenta and actually treat the baby's heart rhythm resulting in a baby who's not likely to get into trouble or resolves any trouble that's there.

Narrator: And just over a decade ago, physicians began interventions for simple valve obstructions that, if left untreated, would progress to more complex issues that could not be corrected after birth.

Hornberger: We've now learned that just dilating that simple valve problem can result in potentially preventing the secondary bad things that develop as a consequence. So, this is a really critical and a very exciting time to be in this field.

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