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What is a Perinatologist and When to See One

POSTED BY: Colleen Monday

Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life, but some women develop complications during pregnancy and need to seek a specialist for diagnosis and treatment of problems with their pregnancy. A perinatologist is a physician that works in conjunction with a patient’s obstetrician when pregnancy complications develop and is able to provide care for both the mom and unborn baby. A perinatologist has completed four years of medical school training, four years of obstetrics and gynecology residency program and two - three years of maternal–fetal medicine fellowship program.

Dr. Rachel Humphrey, medical director of the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Program at Florida Hospital explains when you should see a perinatologist, “Women whose pregnancy is at increased risk for problems; twins or more, recurrent pre-term labor or early delivery in the past, recurrent pregnancy loss, and suspected fetal growth restriction. Women who have a baby felt to be at risk for birth defects due to family history of a child or previous child with birth defects, suspicion of birth defects detected on ultrasound or blood tests in pregnancy or rupture of membranes in the past. Women with a medical history of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer seizure disorders, autoimmune disorders, and patients undergoing diagnostic or therapeutic procedures during pregnancy may require specialized care.”

Women who have a baby at over 35 years of age at delivery may be at risk for birth defects. In a recent interview, Dr. Rachel Humphrey discussed the risks associated with getting pregnant over age 35. “There is not a perfect age for pregnancy, but most women aim to get pregnant before age 35 as they have more eggs, making it easier to get pregnant and having less risk of pregnancy complications which can include genetic disorders, high blood pressure, diabetes, and pre-term labor.” A perinatologist will evaluate the unborn baby in women over age 35.

For information on prenatal, maternity and obstetrics programs, call (855) 303-DOCS, or at