Scripps doctor leads program to help moms through high-risk pregnancies

Dr. Sean Daneshmand

Scripps obstetrician and gynecologist Sean Daneshmand is leading a medical program at Scripps that is expanding to address the increase of women in the United States who are experiencing complications during pregnancy and childbirth.

“I wanted to make a difference, I wanted to change outcomes,” Daneshmand, who lives in Rancho Santa Fe, said of his decision about three years ago to join Scripps. “I thought that Scripps had that mentality. They were interested in developing a maternal-fetal medicine program of their own and they were ready to invest in it.”

In June 2020, Blue Cross Blue Shield released a study that analyzed 1.8 million pregnancies from 2014-18 among commercially-insured women ages 18 to 44. Some of the key findings were that more women are becoming pregnant with pre-existing conditions. There was also a 31.5% increase in women with pregnancy and childbirth complications. And women who experience complications during pregnancy are twice as likely to have childbirth complications, according to the study.

Some of the steps Scripps has taken in response to those trends, according to a news release, are establishing a diabetes in pregnancy program, giving expecting mothers access to an expanded network of specialists, access to a variety of outpatient clinics, and managing fetal heart disease, fetal imaging, genetic counseling, and invasive testing if necessary.

“We’re constantly looking at outcomes and looking to see how we’re making an impact and that what we’re doing is actually making a difference,” Daneshmand said. “We like to be the center of excellence in San Diego County, providing perinatal and neonatal care in the region.”

Daneshmand added that it’s “a team effort” to walk each patient through the issues that need to be addressed and plan for a successful delivery.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also had an impact on access to prenatal care, according to a Blue Cross Blue Shield survey. About 61% of women had to navigate limited office hours offered by their doctors, and nearly half of women attended virtual visits. Approximately 25% skipped appointments during the pandemic as social distancing and other public health mandates took effect.

“It’s brought a lot of stress to patients,” Daneshmand said, adding that patients have had to get through their appointments or delivery without their partners or family members present.

“But we made the adjustments and we provided the services that were needed, so our office never really slowed down,” he continued. “We continued doing exactly what we’re doing with some minor adjustments.”

Daneshmand said the team at Scripps approaches the work with “a great patient experience mentality.”

“We are interested in providing great clinical care, that’s expected of any perinatologist or any program that offers these types of services,” he said. “We are interested in education because it’s extremely important. It not only elevates us, but it keeps us pushing forward and providing the best evidence-based clinical care to our patients.”

Daneshmand is also the president and founder of Miracle Babies, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting mothers and families of infants born prematurely or with illnesses that require them to remain hospitalized after birth.