Health

Profile: Perinatologist selected to head new maternal-fetal medicine unit

New specialty opened last month

Rather than simply taking a picture of a breast, molecular breast imaging is a type of functional imaging, which shows differences in the activity of the tissue. (Dreamstime/TNS)
Rather than simply taking a picture of a breast, molecular breast imaging is a type of functional imaging, which shows differences in the activity of the tissue. (Dreamstime/TNS)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — In recent years, more pregnancies and births have become high-risk. Women not only are having children at older ages, but other health conditions also are making it more complicated for physicians nationwide.

And until recently, Cedar Rapids did not have any specialists to help care for babies inside the womb.

Dr. Stephen Pedron, a perinatologist, recently was named the medical director of maternal-fetal medicine at UnityPoint Health-Cedar Rapids, a new unit that specializes in care of the fetus and complicated, high-risk pregnancies before, during or shortly after delivery.

His role not only is new for Cedar Rapids, but for Iowa’s UnityPoint Health affiliates, according to hospital officials.

Hospital officials said Pedron’s role is needed to address the increased complexity of pregnancies in the area — a trend that professionals such as Pedron are seeing nationwide.

Pedron said there is a rising demand for all medical specialties, “and obstetrics is no exception.” With increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions, there is a higher chance mothers will experience a complicated pregnancy. In addition, women who have children at older ages also may be at risk.

In fact, in 2015, the nation’s maternity mortality rate was about 26.5 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to a study that year.

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“Even though the (obstetricians-gynecologists) here are doing an amazing job and they have been for decades, it’s an area of expertise that’s really important if you’re going to take care of high-risk pregnant patients,” Pedron said. “In the past, those patients have had to travel to Iowa City to have their care. Now they won’t. They’ll be able to receive that high-risk care locally.”

Pedron began seeing patients Sept. 17 in his clinic in Cedar Rapids. He’s also providing consultations at St. Luke’s Women’s & Children’s Center.

“Broadly, when you bring a specialist into an area like this that hasn’t had it, there’s a huge opportunity for population health and public health to reach not just this community, but any unit that’s delivering babies or taking care of pregnant patients where they are in the state,” Pedron said. “My intention is to be available to anyone who needs the help.”

Dr. Dennis Rosenblum, UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital neonatologist, said the establishment of a maternal-fetal medicine unit in Cedar Rapids was “a very thorough process” that took hospital officials years to complete.

Rosenblum said the new maternal-fetal unit, along with the St. Luke’s neonatal intensive care unit, will allow the hospital to serve patients who need additional care after a high-risk pregnancy.

“The goal, as with any medical provider we have, is to provide the highest quality and value of care possible close to the patient’s home community,” Rosenblum said. “As the maternal-fetal medicine program grows, we’ll expand as necessary to provide for the needs of our community and our regional affiliates.”

Pedron attended St. Louis University School of Medicine and trained in maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He most recently was employed at Valley Perinatal Services, a high-risk pregnancy health care provider in Arizona.

l Comments: (319) 368-8536; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

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