what's the buzz

World’s smallest baby scanner developed

Engineers from Newcastle University have developed a low-cost baby scanner that can be plugged into any computer or laptop to reveal vital information about an unborn child.
At a cost of 30 pounds to 40 pounds to make, it is far cheaper than traditional ultrasound machines which cost 20,000 pounds to 1,00,000 pounds.

Electronic engineering lecturer Jeff Neasham was inspired to research the idea by his wife’s first pregnancy. “I was sat with my wife looking at our child on the screen,” the BBC quoted him as saying.

“We realised how privileged we were to have access to this kind of care and it was my wife who suggested that I could apply my knowledge from sonar research to try to make this more affordable,” he said. Neasham and his research associate Dave Graham “treated it as an interesting engineering challenge” and used the cheapest parts possible to produce a “useful image.”

“Cost was the key,” Neasham said.

“The goal was to produce a device that could be produced for a similar cost to the hand-held Doppler devices (foetal heart monitors) used by most community midwives. “Not an easy task when you consider a 20,000-pound scanner is generally classed as low cost,” he added.

He said that the images on his machine could show if a baby was positioned badly in the womb, but were not yet clear enough to show its sex.

Women who regularly take  paracetamol likelier to go deaf

Women who regularly take ibuprofen and paracetamol are at a higher risk of losing their hearing, researchers say.

The study of more than 62,000 women found that taking the drugs just twice a week increases the risk of hearing loss by up to 13 percent.

Using ibuprofen six times a week makes women up to 24 percent more likely to develop some degree of hearing problem as compared with those who do not use the medication.
Those using paracetamol up to five times a week increase the risk of hearing loss by 21 percent.

The same effect was not seen for women who regularly take aspirin.

Researchers who carried out the US study say they do not yet know why there is a link, or whether the damage caused is permanent.

The same team had carried out similar research two years ago and found that men were also at risk of hearing loss from taking the drugs.

In the latest study, data was taken from the Nurses’ Health Study in the US, a national survey of 116,430 female registered nurses conducted over 14 years from 1995 to 2009.
The women were asked how often they took paracetamol, ibuprofen or aspirin. In 2009, they were also asked if they had hearing problems and when those problems began.

The final results were adjusted to take into account other factors such as health problems, weight, vitamin deficiency and alcohol intake. The study identified more than 10,000 reported cases of hearing loss.

“This prospective study showed that use of  ibuprofen or paracetamol two or  more days a week is associated with an increased risk of hearing loss in women and that the magnitude of  the risk tends to be greater with increasing frequency of use,” the Daily Mail quoted Dr Sharon Curhan, author of the study, as saying.

Rooming in mum and baby after delivery beneficial

Keeping the mother and her newborn in the same room every hour of the day encourages breastfeeding at least in the short term, researchers say.

Using randomised controlled trials, the authors wanted to know if “rooming in” resulted in a longer duration of either “exclusive” or occasional breastfeeding up to at least six months of age.

“We really wanted to reassess the essential evidence, and in our minds, hoped to support the WHO recommendation,” Sharifah Halimah Jaafar, lead author from KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital in Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia, said.

The researchers initially considered 23 reports from 19 potential trials and identified only one that met specifications. It showed that the breastfeeding rate at four days after birth, before hospital discharge, was much lower in the mother-child group with separate care versus the rooming-in group.

That trial, however, didn’t provide evidence for breastfeeding for a longer period, even though early mother-infant continuous contact is known to have many advantages.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)