Across the United States, one in every 10 babies is born premature (before 37 weeks gestation). In Louisiana, that number is even higher with a 13 percent preterm birth rate, making it the second-highest state in the country for pre-term births, behind Mississippi. Since access to high-quality prenatal care both for mother and baby has been shown to increase the chances of a safer, full-term pregnancy, Ochsner Health System is offering a Maternal Fetal Medicine (MFM) Fellowship to train the next generation of healthcare professionals in this high-demand specialty.
MFM subspecialists are OBGYNs who undergo additional training to become experts in high-risk pregnancies. They are trained to treat women with chronic or unexpected conditions that arise during pregnancy as well as birth defects or growth problems identified during pregnancy. After the age of 35, expectant mothers face an increased risk for miscarriage or ectopic (tubal pregnancy), along with other complications including, but not limited to – gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, premature delivery, and increased chances of delivery by cesarean section.
“Given the high rate of preterm births in Louisiana, there is a critical need to train more physicians right here in our community in maternal fetal medicine. Louisiana has not had a maternal fetal medicine fellowship since Hurricane Katrina. This program is a significant investment by Ochsner both in the next generation of healthcare professionals and the wellbeing of mothers and babies in our state,” said Joseph R. Biggio, Jr., MD, system co-chair for women’s services and system chair for maternal fetal medicine, Ochsner Health System.
The three-year MFM fellowship program at Ochsner is designed provide a balance of inpatient care, outpatient clinic, ultrasound, and training in clinical research. It is divided into 10 months of outpatient maternal fetal medicine, seven months of inpatient maternal fetal medicine, one month in the intensive care unit, 12 months of research, and six months of electives. The program, which welcomed its first fellow in July of 2019, will award one new fellowship position each year moving forward.