Allison Divanovic, M.D.
Associate Director, Fetal Heart Program and
Co-director, Medical Student/Resident Education Cincinnati Children’s
Associate Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics
Q: How does the Heart Institute/Fetal Heart Program help families whose babies are diagnosed with a heart defect before birth?
We evaluate pregnant women who have concerns about congenital heart defects and collaborate with their physicians to make sure they and their unborn babies receive the care they need during pregnancy, delivery and after birth. A pregnant woman might see us after a heart defect is noticed during a 20-week ultrasound or if she has a health condition that could increase the risk of a heart defect in her child. We run a fetal echocardiogram to make a diagnosis, and then develop a plan, in conjunction with other providers, for the rest of the pregnancy and delivery. The biggest thing we do is make sure she delivers at a facility that is capable of handling babies with complex needs. In some circumstances, mothers of babies with congenital heart defects can deliver at Cincinnati Children’s Fetal Care Center and not be separated from their baby after birth when the babies have their surgeries.
Q: What is the best piece of advice you were ever given as it relates to your field or what is the best piece of advice you can give out?
There’s a lot of advice that’s been passed along over the years and what resonates most is recognizing that each patient is unique, and we should take the opportunity to learn from them. As physicians, sometimes we think we’ve learned it all and seen it all, and that’s not the case. We should always try to do better for our patients.
Q: Who or what inspires you in the field of medicine?
It’s definitely the patients I interact with each day. They can teach me so much about life and how to overcome adversity. It’s wonderful to see them grow and thrive. That’s why I love doing what I do.
Q: Please share your most exciting news as it relates to innovation and research.
Some babies with congenital heart defects are born prematurely or small for gestational age, and we are working to address this in an effort to improve outcomes. Our current clinical research focuses on the mother’s health in helping promote normal growth of the baby during pregnancy through dietary counseling and intervention. We’ve secured a grant for prenatal intervention to help mothers work through the stress and anxiety they might be experiencing knowing that their child has a congenital heart defect. Hopefully, these efforts can encourage longer pregnancies with normal fetal growth, which may promote improved outcomes after heart surgery.