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Fetal Assessment Center

Pregnancy usually is a time for celebration, but it also can be a time of stress if the potential for complications exists or you are a high-risk mother-to-be. Whether you already are pregnant or contemplating pregnancy, if you and your obstetrician are worried about possible problems, Loyola University Health System's Fetal Assessment Center (FAC) offers specialized testing and diagnostic services conducted by clinicians with advanced maternal-fetal medicine training. It’s the first step toward obtaining peace of mind about your pregnancy.

The FAC is an outpatient service dedicated to providing accurate diagnosis as quickly as possible. In many cases, you can have the tests performed and share the results with your obstetrician on the same day. We also work with patients who have complications that other physicians and hospitals may not have the facilities or the expertise to manage.


You should undergo fetal assessment (and possibly ongoing monitoring) if you are 35 years old or older and/or you have:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney or heart disease
  • Not delivered your baby within two weeks after your due date
  • Excessive or insufficient amniotic (protective) fluid surrounding the fetus
  • Two or more fetuses
  • An underweight fetus
  • A history of miscarriages
  • A family history (you and the baby’s father) of a genetic disorder, such as muscular dystrophy or cystic fibrosis
  • A family history (you and the baby’s father) of birth defects
  • An exposure to certain medications or drugs during pregnancy
  • Abnormal maternal serum-screening test results
  • An ethnic/racial background that puts you at risk for certain genetic disorders

Diagnostic tests and services

The FAC offers a range of fetal assessment tests and other services.

  • Advanced obstetrical ultrasound – a painless, noninvasive procedure to detect conditions that could affect the baby’s development and delivery.
  • Amniocentesis – a procedure that can detect Down syndrome and other birth defects
  • Nonstress test – a procedure that measures changes in fetal heart rate and assesses fetal well-being
  • Fetal heart rate/well-being tests – a procedure to check the developing baby’s heart for structural defects
  • Genetic counseling – counseling and genetic testing for couples whose baby is at risk for a birth defect or an inherited disease
  • Perinatal consultation – for special medical concerns, expert consultation that continues throughout the pregnancy and into the month after the baby’s birth

Following your tests

In all cases, we collaborate closely with your referring physician and we strive to return you to the care of your own doctor as soon as possible. However, if you have serious complications, Loyola offers a complete range of services to see you through a difficult pregnancy. If appropriate, patients are referred to:

  • Maternal-fetal medicine - A team of physicians and other caregivers who specialize in the complete care of pregnant women with medical or surgical complications during pregnancy
  • Perinatal Center - Health-care professional who care for high-risk infants immediately after birth