Dr Gowri Ramanathan Image Credit: Supplied

What is the scope of foetal medicine in the UAE?

Quite big as there are only a few medical centres here that offer prenatal testing. There is a huge need for foetal medicine in the country because of the high rate of genetic or chromosomal abnormalities caused by consanguineous marriages.

How is foetal screening done and in what stages of pregnancy?

There are certain milestone scans we do. The first one happens between weeks 11 and 14 of pregnancy, together with a blood test that determines whether or not the baby has a high risk of having a chromosomal abnormality. Further to this, a safe, non-invasive blood test that examines foetal DNA in the maternal bloodstream may also be offered in order to detect certain genetic conditions in the developing baby. The second round of testing comes at around 20 weeks.

What are the benefits of foetal scanning?

It detects abnormalities in the skull and cardiac problems at a very early stage. This helps in the better management of diseases.

Is intervention possible in case any abnormality is diagnosed in the foetus?

Medical intervention is possible in selected cases. There is even scope for foetal surgeries in certain structural abnormalities.

What has been the response so far?

Though foetal medicine is a fairly new subspecialty in the UAE, especially in Abu Dhabi, the response has been good as we are getting regular queries from women wanting to know more about it.