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Oxford Fetal Medicine Unit (FMU)

In approximately two to three in every 100 pregnancies the baby is affected by a condition which requires specialist care before or after birth.

Oxford Fetal Medicine Unit (FMU) provides diagnosis, counselling and treatment for families across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Northamptonshire and Wiltshire.

Oxford Fetal Medicine Unit logo

We are the tertiary centre for the Fetal Medicine Oxford Network (Fetal OXNET) receiving referrals from:

  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Great Western Hospitals NHS Trust
  • Milton Keynes University Hospital
  • Northampton General Hospital
  • Royal Berkshire Hospital
  • Wexham Park Hospital

FETAL OXNET logo

Our team of experienced professionals delivers specialist ultrasound care in a compassionate and supportive environment. We aim to see all families promptly when a referral is made due to a suspected problem.

Our Newborn Care Unit and Paediatric Surgery and Neurosurgery Department enable us to offer a comprehensive service throughout pregnancy.

For some conditions, we offer assessment and/or advice so that the pregnancy and birth can be managed in a local hospital close to home.

For more complex conditions, we offer diagnosis, surveillance, treatment or even planned birth in the John Radcliffe Hospital.

Please visit Clinics and Services.

Our clinics

Fetal Cardiology Clinic

Paediatric Cardiologists and Fetal Medicine Consultants with a specialist interest in Fetal Cardiology carry out specialist heart scans to screen for and/or diagnose conditions which might require heart surgery after birth. If a Fetal Medicine Clinic appointment is also required, we aim to arrange this on the same day, so that families do not have to come to hospital more than necessary.

Fetal Medicine Clinic

If a problem is suspected during a routine scan, a referral will be made to our Fetal Medicine Clinic. Most babies however do not need a specialist Fetal Medicine scan. We also offer care for complicated twin and higher order (triplets, quadruplets etc.) pregnancies.

Fetal Surgical Clinic

Alongside our colleagues in Paediatric Surgery and the Newborn Care Unit, we provide care during pregnancy and delivery in cases where the baby will most likely need surgery after birth.

Monochorionic Twin Clinic

We offer a dedicated clinic for twins who share a placenta.

Placenta Clinic

We offer specialist ultrasound scans for the diagnosis of an abnormally invasive placenta.

Preterm Labour Clinic

We offer surveillance and treatment to prevent premature birth where families have had a previous early preterm baby, or those who have risk factors.

Small for Gestational Age Clinic

We have a dedicated clinic where we monitor babies who are smaller than expected so that we can determine the best time for them to be born.

Our services

Genetic counselling

We provide counselling for and diagnosis and prevention of inherited and genetic fetal conditions.

Non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT)

This is a blood test taken in pregnancy which can identify a small amount of the baby's DNA in order to diagnose genetic conditions, such as Down's syndrome or rare inherited disorders.

Invasive diagnostic tests

These are tests where a thin needle is inserted into the womb to obtain a sample of:

  • amniotic fluid (amniocentesis)
  • placenta (chorionic villous sample [CVS])
  • umbilical cord blood (cordocentesis).

These samples can then be used to diagnose genetic diseases, infection or blood disorders in the baby.

Fetal therapy

This includes:

  • Fetal transfusion - a life-saving procedure for unborn babies who suffer from a serious blood conditions.
  • Fetal shunt insertion - a procedure to drain abnormal accumulation of fluid inside a baby in order to allow normal development.

Our team

We are a multidisciplinary team of highly trained professionals, with a core team of consultants and specialist midwives based at the John Radcliffe Hospital:

Oxford Fetal Medicine Unit team

We work closely with a large team of specialists including:

  • Neonatologists
  • Neuroradiologists
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Paediatric Surgeons
  • Urologists

Find us and contact us

We are on Level 6 of the Women's Centre, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.

Fetal Medicine Unit
Level 6, Women's Centre
John Radcliffe Hospital
Headley Way
Headington
Oxford OX3 9DU

Tel: 01865 221716

Our research

Our team is actively involved in research.

We have conducted and published studies in topics such as:

  • the management of fetal conditions requiring neonatal surgery
  • the diagnosis of placental disorders
  • the short- and long-term impact of hypoxia during labour
  • non-invasive prenatal diagnosis.

We have a strong interest in preventing stillbirth and have introduced routine screening for Fetal Growth Restriction, with a universal third trimester scan through our Ultrasound Department.

Please visit 'Publications'

How we are funded

Oxford FMU is funded through the NHS. We are also supported by the generosity of our patients and their families through donations to the FMU Charity, part of Oxford Hospitals Charity.

Money raised through the charity has paid for:

  • ultrasound equipment
  • IT equipment such as computers and software
  • education to ensure our team provides high quality care based on the latest evidence.
Last reviewed:27 May 2022