Wearable motion sensors could save unborn babies

Posted on August 10, 2019

This device which uses the same commercial sensors used in smartphones to horizontally or vertically orient the device, can record vibrations sent through a mother’s abdomen when her baby’s heart beats or when the foetus move and kicks. Not only that, this device could potentially reduce an estimated 2.6 million stillbirths per year worldwide.

This device would let a pregnant woman know if her foetus is compromised and needs to go to the doctor. Many stillbirths are preceded by variations in fetal movement and heartrate, so affordable, lightweight monitors that detect vibrations generated from a heartbeat could be worn continuously in the final weeks of pregnancy to ensure that distressed fetuses receive prompt medical attention.

In experiments on 10 pregnant women, they found the device could detect fetal heartrate with about the same accuracy as fetal cardiotocograms (f-CTG), which measures the baby's heart electrical activity (ECG) together with mother's uterine contractions as -- and considered the current standard for fetal monitoring. This vibration monitor offers important advantages over existing tools based on ECG or Doppler ultrasound technology, which require specialized knowledge to use, and can be bulky and expensive.

Meanwhile, this new monitor poses no risk to fetus - a concern with ultrasound monitors, which can heat tissue if used continuously for long periods. Vibration monitors offers an objective measure of fetal movement, which is assessed by asking mothers to count the number of times their baby kicks. Combining heart-rate and movement data could provide vital insights into fetal health, surpassing anything that's currently available.

Category(s):Child Development

Source material from Science Daily

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