Pioneering a fetal heart rate monitor
Tragically, around 4,000 babies are stillborn every year and thousands of women hospitalised with pregnancy complications that put babies’ lives at risk. However, thanks to funding from Action, a team of engineers and doctors at the University of Nottingham have developed a monitoring device that reads the heart signals of an unborn baby in the womb.
Using cutting-edge technology, the device reads the baby’s heart signals through electrodes placed on the mother’s skin. Doctors collect and interpret the signals and can then identify potential problems and intervene if necessary. The device is also portable and wireless, so can be worn by the mother for extended periods of time.
This method of measuring babies’ hearts has never before been possible and could open the door to a new way of managing high-risk complications which occur in up to eight per cent of pregnancies. Launched in the UK in 2007 it is also used in Europe and was recently given the go-ahead in the US.