Am J Perinatol 2014; 31(07): 557-566
DOI: 10.1055/s-0033-1364191
Review Article
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

The History of Fetal Therapy

Kenneth J. Moise Jr.
1  Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, UT Health School of Medicine, Houston, Texas
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

21 October 2013

27 November 2013

Publication Date:
25 February 2014 (online)


The Fetal Treatment Center founded by Michael Harrison is credited as the birthplace of fetal surgery. His trainees in pediatric surgery subsequently founded fetal centers throughout the United States. In Europe, the advent of minimally invasive fetal surgical techniques led to the establishment of treatment centers led predominantly by perinatologists. More recently, perinatologists in North America have begun to play a greater role in the field of fetal intervention.

Intrauterine transfusion for the treatment of hemolytic disease of the fetus/newborn was the first successful fetal intervention. Although not subjected to the rigors of clinical trials, this treatment has withstood the test of time. Interventions for other fetal disease states such as twin–twin transfusion and repair of fetal myelomeningocele were investigated in animal models followed by randomized clinical trials before widespread adoption. Tracheal occlusion for diaphragmatic hernia is still currently being investigated as the next promising step in fetal intervention.