Saint Peter's physician referral service: 1-855-SP-MY-DOC or 1-855-776-9362

Saint Peter’s Opens New Perinatal Center

Maternal Fetal Medicine and Antenatal Testing for High-Risk Pregnancy Offered Here

February 1, 2013 Saint Peter's Healthcare System Community Calendar Featured Article.

New Perinatal Center

Saint Peter’s University Hospital has opened a new state-of-the-art Perinatal Center which houses its Maternal Fetal Medicine practice, its High-Risk Pregnancy follow-up program, and its Antenatal Testing Unit. The Perinatal Center provides unique and highly skilled perinatal health care for women who anticipate or are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy.

This newly constructed center, located on the first floor of the Women and Children’s Pavilion, provides a more comfortable, roomy environment for patients. Decorated in the earth-tone colors and healing architecture used in all renovations throughout the hospital, the new center is home to the latest technology available for ultrasound and other prenatal testing.

The department is soon to begin using the latest ultrasound equipment manufactured by GE featuring the most advanced 3-D and 4-D imaging innovation. “Every time you upgrade a system you provide patients with the most accurate diagnosis and information and provide an improvement in the level of care provided,” says A. Liam Ness, MD, the new director of the Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine.

Saint Peter’s has long been a leader in the area of Maternal Fetal Medicine. Nationally recognized for its perinatal care services, Saint Peter’s became the region’s first state-designated Regional Perinatal Center in 1981. There are more than 500 low-birth-weight babies delivered at Saint Peter’s University Hospital each year and cared for in the most established Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in Central Jersey. The hospital’s more than 2,200 high-risk obstetrical (OB) clinic visits per year contribute to the large number of births that take place at Saint Peter’s. Saint Peter’s delivered the most babies in Central Jersey in 2011*, approximately 5,800 and close to the same number in 2012.

“We are licensed and equipped to manage the most complicated pregnancies and most medically fragile newborns,” said Edwin Guzman, MD, interim chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and former director of Saint Peter’s Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine. “Our maternal fetal medicine program provides advanced diagnostic testing and high-risk pre- and postnatal care. Our team includes high-risk perinatal physicians, including Christopher Houlihan, MD, who has been at Saint Peter’s for more than 15 years, geneticists, a perinatal pathologist, perinatal nurses, pediatric surgeons, ultrasonographers, neonatologists, diabetes care and control specialists, and other high-risk support specialists. And our patients are now seen in this ultra-modern care setting.”


Services of the Perinatal Center include:

Antenatal Testing Unit — The unit provides advanced ultrasound testing and interventional procedures, including:


  • First-trimester ultrasound screening for chromosomal abnormalities
  • 3-D/4-D ultrasound screening
  • Amniocentesis
  • Chorionic villus sampling
  • Fetal cardiovascular evaluation
  • Fetal surveillance

Infant and Pregnancy Loss Evaluation Service — Offers diagnostic services and treatment to couples who have suffered a pregnancy loss. Of the women who are treated at Saint Peter’s, 80 percent carry a healthy baby to term.


Infant Prematurity Assessment and Prevention Program — Offers diagnosis and treatment to prevent premature birth.

Other services

Women seen at the Perinatal Center also have access to services that are provided through Saint Peter’s state-designated Regional Perinatal Center. These include:

High-Risk Antepartum Unit — Pregnant women with chronic medical conditions or complex pregnancies are admitted to this 34-bed unit for observation and treatment in an attempt to bring such pregnancies as close to term as possible.

Institute for Genetic Medicine — Provides pre and postnatal counseling, testing and treatment.

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit — A 54-bassinet unit for babies born premature or with special medical needs.

Perinatal Emergency Triage and Treatment Unit — The eight-bed unit serves as an “emergency room” for pregnant women. Patients admitted to this unit are cared for by obstetricians/ gynecologists and OB nurses who are experts in managing pregnancy complications.

Through an affiliation with Columbia University Medical Center, Saint Peter’s University Hospital is the only hospital in New Jersey to be part of the Maternal Fetal Medicine Units Network. This network, created by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, focuses on clinical questions in maternal fetal medicine and obstetrics, particularly with respect to the continuing problem of preterm birth.