A team from Imperial College London based at Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea, Hammersmith and the Royal Brompton Hospitals has worked with equipment developed by scientists at QinetiQ, Europes largest science and technology organisation, to study the heart rate of unborn babies in minute detail.
The technique, reported in this months British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, will allow doctors to monitor the health of babies’ hearts and obtain the full fetal ECG (fECG), particularly during high risk pregnancies, such as where the mother suffers from diabetes or pre-eclampsia or where there is a family history of serious arrhythmia such as Long QT syndrome. These conditions can affect the baby, sometimes resulting in a still birth or sudden death in later life.
Dr Myles J.O. Taylor from Imperial College London and the Hammersmith Hospital comments: “Although it has been possible to record the fECG from the baby in the womb since the 1960’s, the technique has not been totally reliable, as it is difficult to separate the heart rate from background interference. This new technique will allow us to accurately record and analyse the fetal ECG, not just in single pregnancies, but also in multiple pregnancies which we believe is a world first.”
Tony Stephenson | alfa
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