18 December 2007
Trials are underway on a NEW heart rate monitor which could save hundreds of babies every year.
Action Medical Research, the charity that also played a crucial role in the development of ultra-sound scanning in pregnancy during the 1970’s, has funded 8 years of development work in this new monitor.
Each day, 10 babies are stillborn in the UK (1) - a figure which the Monica AN24 monitor, based on original research done by Drs Barrie Hayes-Gill, Jean Francois Pieri and John Crowe, aims to reduce.
The monitor offers obstetricians an unrivalled insight into the working of the unborn babies' heart will be available to maternity units by the end of the year.
The trials at City Hospital Nottingham will monitor mothers who have previously had a stillbirth or have a condition that could threaten their unborn baby; such as coliastasis.
The mobile phone sized device is small enough to be worn continuously for 24 hours, allowing ground-breaking detection of the baby’s heart beat. Action Medical Research hopes that, like ultrasound, it could eventually become a commonly used obstetric tool.
Existing methods to record babies' heart rates in pregnancy provide limited information and are too cumbersome and potentially hazardous to allow continuous, long-term monitoring.
The new device will unburden mothers by releasing them from long-term stays in hospital whilst providing reassurance that their baby is being expertly watched over.
Dr Yolande Harley, Research Manager at Action Medical Research said, “We are proud to have supported this project for many years and, like ultrasound scanning, it could revolutionise the care of pregnant women by providing an early warning of problems.
“The potential for its use is enormous; ultimately it could become a routine part of obstetric care, as familiar to pregnant mothers as ultrasound scanning.
“For parents who may have lost babies in the past, or are identified as being at risk, the monitor provides reassurance; allowing them to get on with their lives with less worry that their unborn child may be in distress without them even knowing."
Commenting, Dr Terry Martin, Marketing Director for Monica Healthcare, the company that has designed the final product, said, “A big challenge for us was to ‘pick up’ the unborn baby’s heart beat clearly.
“This electrical reading from a baby’s heart beat is so small compared to other electrical signals, including the mother’s own heart beat, that it is very difficult to find.
“For mothers at risk of stillbirth, this device could give doctors a vital insight into the right time to induce delivery and so reduce the numbers of babies stillborn.”
The device also offers clinicians information on the functioning of the maternal heart as well as important detail on how the fetus is lying within the womb.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Birth statistics, Office for National Statistics, Review of the Registrar General on births and patterns of family building in England and Wales, 2004: http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_population/FM1_33/FM1_33.pdf
Statistics library (Vital Events Reference Tables), General Register Office for Scotland: http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/files/05t4-1.pdf
Registrar General Annual Report 2004 - Section 3 Births. Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency: http://www.nisra.gov.uk/demography/default.asp?cmsid=20_22_28&cms=demogr...
Dr Martin and Dr Harley are both available for interview, please contact:
Jo Gilham, Press and PR Manager, Action Medical Research
01403 327493 or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Action Medical Research is a national charity, which is dedicated to building a healthier future for everyone. The Charity is funding research into many serious diseases and conditions, including premature birth, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, osteoporosis, sickle cell disease, Parkinson’s disease and stroke.
Action Medical Research has been making breakthroughs for over 50 years, and its life-saving work benefits babies, children and adults. The Charity’s successes include helping develop the UK polio vaccine, ultrasound scanning in pregnancy, the hip replacement operation, and discovering the link between taking folic acid and preventing spina bifida. www.action.org.uk
Touching Tiny Lives is Action Medical Research’s new campaign to give the most vulnerable babies in this country a better start in life. More research is needed to ensure that all babies, especially babies born prematurely, grow up healthy. Touching Tiny Lives aims to raise £3 million to help fund a range of vital research-http://www.action.org.uk/ttl