Infant With Prenatal Defects Suffers Permanent Neurological Impairment

    Maternal-Fetal Medicine Expert

    This case involves a pregnant woman whose fetus was found prenatally to have a defect in the lower chambers of the heart and kidney failure. The baby was born prematurely and was intubated in the NICU. He was diagnosed with brain and eye malformations, brain bleeding, and fluid build-up. He was taken for a ventriculoperitoneal shunt to relieve pressure on his brain caused by the fluid accumulation. After receiving anesthesia, the baby went into cardiac arrest and began experiencing seizure activity. The baby sustained substantial neurologic impairment as a result of the seizure. An expert in maternal-fetal medicine was sought to review the prenatal care and discuss how these prenatal conditions should be diagnosed.

    Question(s) For Expert Witness

    • 1. How often do you diagnose fetus' on antenatal ultrasound with VSD and renal dysfunction?
    • 2. Once diagnosed, how would you communicate the child's antenatal, postnatal, and long-term complications?

    Expert Witness Response E-185967

    VSD is the most commonly diagnosed congenital heart defect on antenatal ultrasound. VSD is quite commonly identified in fetuses with congenital heart disease prevalence of 0.9%. It is also quite common for isolated VSDs to be missed on antenatal ultrasound if they measure <3mm. Renal dysfunction describes a pathophysiologic state and may not translate into any identifiable structural abnormalities on ultrasound examination. Conversely, renal structural abnormalities are often identified on antenatal ultrasound and may sometimes translate into long-term renal dysfunction depending on the type of renal lesion. In the setting of any severe renal abnormalities identified on ultrasound (ie, bilateral multicystic dysplastic kidneys, bilateral renal agenesis, and polycystic kidney disease), we counsel parents regarding the long-term prognosis. This counseling would, of course, be individualized depending on the severity of the ultrasound findings and would include the option of termination.


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