Doctors at University of Sussex, in England, have developed a fetal heart monitor that would allow expectant mothers to accurately and effectively track their unborn baby's heartbeat in the convenience of their home. The technology could be used to assess congenital heart defects and diseases as well as monitor babies during high-risk pregnancies.
From the University of Sussex article: "The technology developed at the University of Sussex is capable of recording information required to
calculate foetal heart rate values and variability with high accuracy. This can be used to clinically assess congenital cardiac diseases such as arrhythmia and to monitor processes associated with body auto regulation such as blood pressure and heart vascular tone."
“Currently expectant mothers with health concerns about their babies have to go through the stress of going to hospital to check on the heartbeat of their child. With this new technology, they will be able to do this from the comfort of their own home, which will be much better for the welfare of mother and baby.” stated Dr Rendon-Morales, a Lecturer in Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Sussex and lead developer of the fetal heart monitor.
The device was built around Electric Potential Sensing (EPS) technology which allows for accurate electrocardiogram monitoring by placing non-invasively placing the device on top of the mother's skin. The monitor can accurately pinpoint the baby's heartbeat from the mother's while providing a simple reading without any further information processing. It also eliminates the need for any gels or other agents applied to the skin.
Dr Rendon-Morales said, “Although the ultrasound procedure is described as being non-invasive, having gel rubbed on your skin and then an electrode pressed against your womb is invasive and can be an uncomfortable experience for mothers. With this new heart monitor, expectant mothers can get reassurance that their baby is doing fine within a few seconds, removing the unnecessary stress and worry that waiting for a hospital scan currently involves.”
Read more about the at home fetal heart monitor at University of Sussex.