These days patients that are still in the womb have their heart rates measured on a regular basis to spot conditions such as fetal bradycardia or tachycardia or decreased variability. This is typically done in a hospital using specialty equipment that is too expensive for use in the home. Now researchers at the University of Essex in the UK have developed a new sensor that can be by the pregnant mother at home while achieving an accuracy that rivals that of in-clinic equipment.
Existing fetal monitoring relies on silver chloride electrodes and ultrasound, but the U of Essex device works like an electrometer using so-called Electric Potential Sensing (EPS) technology. This allows their prototype to be positioned directly on the pregnant woman’s abdomen to measure the heart rate without having to use a gel or having electronic leads snaking to another device. The new sensors are an improvement on existing at-home fetal heart rate monitors that simply don’t provide a level of accuracy that can be relied on by clinicians.
“This technology is a step forward for home-based medical devices, benefiting not only health service providers though resource optimization, but also expectant mothers who are experiencing a very exciting, but sometimes stressful, moment in their lives,” said Dr Rodrigo Aviles-Espinosa, a co-author of the study appearing in journal AIP Advances.
“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,” said Dr Rendon-Morales, another researchers on the project. “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.”
Study in journal AIP Advances: Non-invasive recordings of fetal electrocardiogram during pregnancy using electric potential sensors…