My journey to motherhood: From disappointment and frustration to the family I always dreamed of

Mother’s Day has special meaning to Kristine who wasn’t sure whether she’d ever be able to have her own children before fertility treatment at U-M

Bowdell family

Kristine Bowdell with daughter Patty, 3 and husband Martin.

Every year, the commercials begin again. Moms in pajamas waking up to flowers, presents and breakfast in bed from their little ones. Mother’s Day – a recognition of the special relationship between mothers and children and a reminder of the one thing I wanted most for so long and wasn’t sure I’d ever have.

I never imagined not being a mom. Everything in my life stemmed from my love for children.

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Fetal DNA Testing

Fetal DNA TestingIn late 2011, a new method of fetal genetic testing was introduced. Called cell-free fetal DNA testing or non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT), this testing uses maternal blood to test for abnormalities in the fetal DNA. First introduced to detect Down syndrome (trisomy 21), the test is now also used to detect the less common trisomies 18 and 13 as well as other conditions.  This type of test is offered by several different companies that each have their own brand name for the test.

We offer NIPT to all women at increased risks for the designated conditions.  Those in the high-risk group include women over the age of 35, someone with a blood test result or ultrasound marker associated with a chromosome abnormality, and anyone with a family history or previous pregnancy with a history of one of these conditions.

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Newborn screening: racing against time

Grant will fund research in speeding up screening results for tiniest patients

newborn screeningNewborn screening is a complicated system in a race against time. And if we lose the race, children can die from these disorders. If we can find affordable ways to make the system of newborn screening run the race faster, we can help save lives. With the help of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and experts across the University in health services, engineering and health policy, my research team is working to find a way to help us run a faster race.

What is newborn screening? Well, shortly after birth, every baby in the US is tested for a variety of inherited diseases. If babies who have these diseases are not found and started on treatment, they can become seriously ill, and, in some cases, die. This process of testing and treating children at birth for inherited diseases is called newborn screening. It is a 50 year-old public health program that is conducted in every state across the US. Continue reading

5 things that may surprise you about Certified Nurse-Midwives

vvwh blog - midwife photoI’ve been a midwife for 10 years, and I love my job everyday – even when it’s exhausting and difficult. It’s an amazing experience to work together with women and their families through the transformative experience of welcoming a new family member and stepping into motherhood.

Midwives have been providing health care to women for centuries, but a lot has changed since the early days of midwifery. Today, certified nurse midwives are an important part of the healthcare delivery system, with rigorous certification standards. In fact, in 2012, midwives delivered 11.8% of all vaginal births in the U.S., and that number is on the rise!

Still, many misperceptions about midwifery exist. In honor of National Midwifery Week, which runs from Oct. 5 to 11, here are five things you may not know about certified nurse-midwives.  Continue reading

Saving My Babies: Our twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome story

Felix and Jack TheilWhen I first learned that I was pregnant with identical twins, I was six weeks into the pregnancy. My husband and I were informed shortly afterwards about the potential risks of developing twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS). Our doctor told us approximately 10 to 15 percent of twins who share the same placenta develop TTTS. The risk was always there in the back of our minds, but we didn’t dwell on what might happen.

We were referred to the University of Michigan Maternal Fetal Medicine team for high-risk pregnancies. I just figured we were going to receive top-notch prenatal care! Then, at my 16-week check up, the doctor saw signs that TTTS may be developing and immediately sent us for a more in-depth ultrasound.

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Ethiopian-born doctor, mother of 4, leads mission to save women’s lives in developing world

"Whether you live or die or whether you have good care or not shouldn't depend on what part of the world you’re from."

Dr. Fisseha in Ethiopia

Michigan Photography: U-M’s Dr. Senait Fisseha in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

She is known for helping women on their journey to motherhood at the University of Michigan Center for Reproductive Medicine, but Dr. Senait Fisseha has been plagued by the plight of women in other parts of the world – the ones with the least access to quality care.

The reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist and mother of four knows all too well about the health challenges of the developing world. Born in Ethiopia – which has one of the highest maternal mortality ratios in the world – Fisseha has long dreamt of being able to use her medical expertise to give back to the global community.

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