New Sensor lets pregnant mum listen to unborn baby’s heartbeat

Scientists have developed an effective sensor that can allow pregnant women to measure the heartbeat of their unborn baby. Researchers at the University of Sussex in the UK have developed the tool which could help detect heartrelated congenital disorders during pregnancy or emphasize on the need for medical interventions due to complications such as premature delivery or umbilical cord compression. Presently, pregnant women have to visit the hospital to check on the heartbeat of their child. But this new technology shall help them to monitor the same from the comfort of their homes.

Researchers have claimed that, “The research is the first significant update in the technology used to measure babies’ heart rates for 40 years and moves away from the existing use of silver chloride electrodes.” The University of Sussex has developed an electrometer-based amplifier prototype using Electric Potential Sensing technology, which enables in-utero foetal electrocardiogram monitoring by just placing the device on the top of the skin of the pregnant mother’s abdomen in a non-invasive way.

The technology can record information required to calculate fetal 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. The electrocardiogram can isolate the baby’s heartbeat from the mother’s with pinpoint accuracy, providing a simple reading without the need for any additional processing.

This technology eliminates the need for a special gel to be applied to the skin. Application of gel is necessary when using silver chloride electrodes, in order to establish a reading, but the process can produce inaccurate readings. “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,” said Elizabeth Rendon-Morales, a lecturer at the University of Sussex.

This new heart monitor offers reassurance to the expectant mothers that their baby is doing fine within a few seconds, extracting the unnecessary stress and worry involved while waiting for a hospital scan.