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Pediatrics. 2012 Dec;130(6):e1534-40. doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-1352. Epub 2012 Nov 5.

Differing attitudes toward fetal care by pediatric and maternal-fetal medicine specialists.

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Department of Radiology, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



The expansion of pediatric-based fetal care raises questions regarding pediatric specialists' involvement in pregnancies when maternal conditions may affect pediatric outcomes. For several such conditions, we compared pediatric and obstetric specialists' attitudes regarding whether and when pediatrics consultation should be offered and their views about seeking court authorization to override maternal refusal of physician recommendations.


We used a mail survey of 434 maternal-fetal medicine specialists (MFMs) and fetal care pediatric specialists (FCPs) (response rate: MFM, 60.9%; FCP, 54.2%).


FCPs were more likely than MFMs to indicate that pediatric counseling should occur before decisions regarding continuing or interrupting pregnancies complicated by maternal alcohol abuse (FCP versus MFM: 63% vs 36%), cocaine abuse (FCP versus MFM: 60% vs 32%), use of seizure medications (FCP versus MFM: 62% vs 33%), and diabetes (FCP versus MFM: 56% vs 27%) (all P < .001). For all conditions, MFMs were more than twice as likely as FCPs to think that no pediatric specialist consultation was ever necessary. FCPs were more likely to agree that seeking court interventions was appropriate for maternal refusal to enter a program to discontinue cocaine use (FCP versus MFM: 72% vs 33%), refusal of azidothymidine to prevent perinatal HIV transmission (80% vs 41%), and refusal of percutaneous transfusion for fetal anemia (62% vs 28%) (all P < .001).


Pediatric and obstetric specialists differ considerably regarding pediatric specialists' role in prenatal care for maternal conditions, and regarding whether to seek judicial intervention for maternal refusal of recommended treatment.

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