Purpose of review: The assessment of fetal health has occupied our professional attention for many years. As the development of technologies for prenatal diagnostic techniques has progressed, applications of such technologies have aided in the overall assessment of fetal well-being.
Recent findings: Fetal heart-rate monitoring remains the main form of fetal assessment for high-risk pregnancies. The additional assessments afforded by the analysis of ST and T-wave changes of the fetal electrocardiogram hold promise for improving the predictive value of fetal heart-rate assessments. Ultrasound has been invaluable for assessment of fetal anatomy, and the use of Doppler ultrasound has given insight into fetal cardiovascular responses to such conditions as intrauterine growth restriction and fetal anemia caused by red blood cell alloimmunization.
Summary: As prenatal diagnostic techniques evolve, their application to the assessment of fetal well-being offers insight into pathophysiologic mechanisms of fetal disease, innovative tools to assess fetal health, and fertile ground for future investigation.