What is Maternal-Fetal Medicine?
Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) is a subspecialty of
Obstetrics and Gynecology dealing with all matters that can affect the health of
a mother or fetus from before conception to the postpartum period. Physicians
who practice Maternal-Fetal Medicine are obstetrician/gynecologists who have
received additional training, and performed research, in the care and management
of pregnant women and fetuses.
Maternal-Fetal Medicine was first recognized as a
subspecialty of obstetrics and gynecology in 1974, but the scientific advances
leading to the emergence of this new medical field were made in the 1950s and
60s. The advent of medical ultrasound gave obstetricians a window through which
to observe the behavior and development of the fetus. Amniocentesis, coupled with cytogenetics and later, molecular
biology, made possible the diagnosis of many fetal conditions, even early in
pregnancy. Fetal monitoring allowed evaluation for fetal well-being in late
pregnancy and during labor, allowing physicians to intervene on behalf of the
fetus. Techniques for safely entering the uterus with needles and various instruments
allowed other forms of diagnosis and, in some instances, treatment of the fetus.
By the early 1970s there was no denying that the fetus had
become a patient in his or her own right. At the same time it was becoming
increasingly clear that the appropriate management of many maternal medical and
surgical conditions could improve the health of the fetus. All of these advances
led to a growing group of obstetrician/gynecologists who were limiting their
work to the needs of mothers and fetuses in complicated pregnancies.
In 1974 certification in the subspecialty of Maternal-Fetal Medicine was
granted by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Today, MFM specialists are involved in guiding the
management of medical and surgical complications that a mother may encounter
during pregnancy. MFM specialists
also provide diagnosis and management of medical and surgical conditions of the
fetus. Care may include in utero treatment, modification of delivery
timing or delivery mode, and facilitation and coordination of care for the
infant after delivery.
Many MFM physicians are also involved in planning and
executing research in a wide variety of areas affecting the health of mothers
and fetuses. In so doing, they are steadily contributing to a body of knowledge
that is improving the outcome of pregnancy for mothers and infants throughout
Regrettably, many MFM physicians support, or even
participate in, feticide through the provision of induced abortion. As pro-life
Maternal-Fetal Medicine physicians we believe that this is diametrically opposed
to the entire ethos of our medical specialty, which developed specifically to
provide care for maternal and fetal patients.
Accordingly, we have joined together to declare our responsibility for
the full protection and care of mother and fetus in every pregnancy.
For a more detailed description of MFM see the Society
for Maternal-Fetal Medicine¡¯s definition of Maternal-Fetal Medicine.