Scientists develop fetal oxygen monitors to reduce unnecessary caesarean sections

According tomedia reports, many people may have become familiar with the blood oxygen meter that measures the oxygen content of the blood by the patient’s finger. Now scientists have developed a device that uses the same principle of work, but it can be used in an unborn child without a hitge. Traditional hemometers use LED lights to pass red and near-infrared light through one side of the skin in the translucent part of the body, such as fingertips or earlobes. Lighter-colored oxygen-rich blood absorbs most of the infrared light, while darker oxygen-poor blood absorbs most of the red light. Therefore, by analyzing the proportion of light passing through the other side of the body, the oxygen meter is able to determine the amount of oxygen in the blood.

Scientists develop fetal oxygen monitors to reduce unnecessary caesarean sections

An ordinary hemometer cannot be applied to a fetus still in the mother’s womb. However, it is important to monitor the blood oxygen level of the fetus immediately before birth, as lack of oxygen can cause permanent brain damage or even death in the fetus. Typically, doctors estimate these levels based on the baby’s heart rate and the mother’s contraction rate. If it is determined that a lack of oxygen may have occurred, your doctor will probably recommend delivering by caesarean section as soon as possible. But if it is found that the fetus is not actually oxygen-deprived, then a caesarean section is not necessary.

This is the role of the new fetal oxygen monitor. Developed by scientists at the University of California, Davis, the device is applied to the mother’s abdominal skin and irrese light harmlessly through the mother’s biological tissue into the fetus. By analyzing how these rays are scattered back, the device can accurately determine the blood oxygen content of the fetus. It has been successfully tested on pregnant sheep.

But how can the system tell whose oxygen levels this is, given that light passes through both the mother and the fetus?

“We can independently measure the mother’s heart rate and her oxygen saturation (as well as other possible clues, such as fetal heart rate, mother’s breathing rate/emotion) using traditional monitors, and use these clues to filter out noise and focus on finding fetal information in the sensing signal,” said lead scientist Professor Soheil Ghiasi. “This is similar to the ‘cocktail effect’, which refers to the brain’s ability to focus/understand a particular speaker in the presence of a lot of background noise. “

The system is currently being commercialized through spin-off company Storx Technologies. It was described in a recent paper published in the journal IEEE Transactions in Biomedical Engineering.