Health Check: High-risk pregnancy program at Women and Infants

Dr. Kenneth Chen, left speaks with Kelly Melendez, center, and Dr. Jane Sharp, right, about Melendez's medical care.

Kelly Melendez of Pawtucket is expecting her first child. She's not sure if she's having a boy or girl, but she is sure she's getting the best medical care possible.

"When Kelly came to me for her obstetrical care, she had a few challenges in her medical history that I just felt needed a little bit more expertise and advice in terms of how to best coordinate her care," said Dr. Jane Sharp of the Center for OBGYN.

So Sharp consulted with Women and Infants Hospital's new integrated program for high risk pregnancy. One of Sharp's concerns was that Melendez had a history of ocular migraines which led to a diagnosis of a borderline autoimmune condition.

"And this condition could potentially lead to complications during pregnancy including pregnancy loss and pre-eclampsia later in pregnancy, and Dr. Sharp's question to me was whether there was anything specific we needed to do for the pregnancy in terms of treatment," said Dr. Kenneth Chen, who is the co-director of the high risk pregnancy program.

Chen consulted with his team of experts.

"And we all ended up coming to the consensus after discussing that we should put her on a low dose aspirin during her pregnancy," he said.

Melendez was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, and as a result was being treated with insulin therapy. However, Melendez had another concern.

"I do a lot of wet lab work with my students and I wasn't sure if the chemicals that I was using in the lab could potentially pose a risk to the baby so I had spoken to Dr. Chen at length and he looked over everything and was able to tell me what was safe to continue to do and what I should avoid at this point," Melendez said.

For OBGYNs like Sharp, the new integrated program for high risk pregnancy is invaluable.

"It's been a remarkable resource. I can't do my job without it," Sharp said.

And Melendez, who's due in early June, said she's thankful for her specialized care.

The program includes maternal fetal medicine specialists, gastroenterologists, diabetes and physical therapy experts.