Fetal Medicine Unit

Most pregnancies are normal without any complications. However, sometimes a mother or her unborn baby may require specialised care for various reasons. If the unborn baby has abnormalities such as gastroschisis, or the mother has medical conditions that increase risk to her baby, such as red cell antibodies or viral infections, they may require specialised care in the Fetal Medicine Unit.
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What does the FMU offer?

The Fetal Medicine Unit (FMU) at Saint Mary’s Hospital is made up of highly experienced fetal medicine consultants and specialist midwives. In addition there are other specialist doctors such as neonatologists, geneticists, paediatric surgeons, fetal cardiologists and neurosurgeons who offer counselling and will take over the care of babies with abnormalities after they are born. There are also fetal medicine subspecialty trainees and sometimes visiting medical students, midwives and neonatal nurses.

The Fetal Medicine Unit serves a maternity population of 50,000 within the North West Region and receives over 1,000 referrals per year.  The unit is one of 12 fetal medicine centres across England that is supported by Specialist Service Commissioning as of April 2013.

There are regular joint and separate clinics with consultant and nurse specialist colleagues from paediatric surgery, paediatric neurosurgery, paediatric nephrology, paediatric cardiology, paediatric urology, clinical genetics, neonatology and intensive care. Almost all of these specialties are co-located at the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust site, either in Saint Mary’s Hospital or at the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital. This means that mothers and their babies are not separated whilst their babies receive the required care after birth.

Crucially, the FMU service also maintains communication with the referring clinicians and specialities.

In the Fetal Medicine Unit we see patients for various reasons and whilst under our care we offer several services including high risk screening, scanning, prenatal diagnosis and treatments.

Our Staff

Our consultant obstetricians are supported by specialist midwives and other specialist staff from Paediatrics, Cardiology, Urology, Genetics, Neonatology, Neonatal Surgery, Neurosurgery, ICU and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

What do we do in our clinics?

In our FMU clinics, we:

  • Assess women at added risk of fetal abnormality.
  • Confirm diagnosis of fetal abnormality.
  • Give detailed information about likely outcomes, which includes providing multi-disciplinary input.
  • Inform women and families about the choices available. On-going psychological support and counselling is provided by the Fetal Medicine Midwives.
  • Provide women with a named midwife in Fetal Medicine.
  • Initiate ongoing monitoring of pregnancies, where appropriate.
  • Undertake interventional and therapeutic procedures, such as fetal blood transfusion.
  • Assess possible complications in multiple births.


The service includes screening for, diagnosis of and treatment (where relevant) of:

  • Chromosome abnormalities.
  • Fetal anomalies.
  • Haemoglobinopathies.
  • Single gene genetic diseases.
  • Haemolytic disease of the newborn.
  • Complex multiple pregnancies.
  • Fetal growth restriction.

Communication with referring clinicians and other specialties is a crucial part of the work of the FMU service, with this being formally assessed in both CNST (NHSLA) and Specialist Commissioning evaluations of service effectiveness.

Different are the different types of clinics?

General Clinics

We have general clinics daily throughout the week. Here you will be seen by one of our highly qualified consultants and specialist midwives. During the appointment you will be scanned followed by counselling about the diagnosis, outlook and further management.

Specialist Clinics

We also have a number of specialist clinics for:

  • Complex Multiple Pregnancy
  • Fetal Neurology
  • Fetal Cardiology
  • Paediatric Surgery

What procedures do you do?

Depending on the outcome of your scan, you may be offered one of the following procedures within our clinic: