Tool to check baby's health, heart in womb

Tool to check baby's health, heart in womb


Ofer Barnea, biomedical engineer at Tel Aviv University (TAU), along with Jacob Bar from the Wolfson Medical Centre has developed a tool that combines powerful algorithms with ultrasound to probe foetal physiology.

The foetus fails to grow during pregnancy possibly due to a poorly developed heart, which can also cause brain damage.

The condition, known as intra-uterine growth restriction (IUGR), prompts doctors to use ultrasound to track a baby’s health and determine the best time for delivery.

But these measurements are often incomplete, and obstetricians have had to rely on educated guesses about the strength of a foetus’s circulatory system.

Now this new approach will enable paediatricians to get critical data on the development of the foetal circulatory system, to determine when the baby is strong enough to survive on its own, according to a TAU release. “Babies with IUGR experience stress and growth restrictions inside the womb,” says Barnea. “If they leave the baby inside too long, she may suffer from brain damage.”

“On the other hand, we need to be sure her heart is strong enough to survive outside the womb,” says Barnea. His team of biomedical engineers and physicians provides a way for doctors to “see” the whole picture so better medical decisions can be made.
“We can show doctors mathematically what the human eye can’t see,” says Barnea. “Our system integrates observable data with mathematical models of the foetus’ or newborn’s circulation,” he adds.  

Barnea is further developing the technology with William P Santamore, professor at the Temple University.

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