SEP 11, 2017 11:01 AM PDT

Making Pregnancy Safer with a New Method for Monitoring the Fetal Heartbeat

WRITTEN BY: Kara Marker

With more frequent observation of the fetal heartbeat during pregnancy made possible by easy-to-use home monitoring, scientists anticipate doctors will be able to notice and address any complications sooner than with regular trips to the doctor. The new home monitoring system is the result of a new study of a noise-filtering mathematical technique to process sounds, published in the journal Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology.

At the doctor’s office, trained specialists use traditional equipment to monitor the fetal heartbeat:

  • Doppler ultrasound probes
  • Electrical fetal monitoring systems

These techniques are costly and require training to use, making it virtually impossible to adapt them for use in the home. And while simpler methods merely use external vibration sensors to collect acoustic signals produced by the fetal heart to analyze, multiple conflicting noises get in the way: the mother’s heartbeat, breathing, and noises from digestion. Combined with the fact that the fetal heartbeat has a low acoustic energy to start, the “listening method” isn’t good enough compared to what the doctor can do in the office with high-tech equipment.

However, the new technique was designed to separate the sound of the fetal heartbeat from anything else a vibration sensor might pick up. With the system more effective, doctors can send the equipment home with pregnant women, allowing them to frequently collect recordings remotely, sending them back to the doctor for analysis.

"We wanted to see if a mathematical analysis technique called Wavelet Transform-Fractal Dimension, that has been successfully used to de-noise lung and bowel sounds, could be used to examine fetal heart sounds more accurately," explained Elisavet Koutsiana from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Koutsiana and other researchers looked at the potential of the Wavelet Transform-Fractal Dimension technique when applied to a database of simulated fetal heart recordings, which included fetal hearts with common complications like arrhythmias, followed by real recordings. The technique successfully separated sounds so they could isolate the heartbeat.

"Our work suggests that there is potential for low cost and continuous recordings of fetal heart sounds in the home," Koutsiana said. "We plan to continue the research with more real recorded signals to learn more about the fetal heart cycle and how it relates to health, and also to improve the accuracy of the system further. Our results should help doctors to make pregnancy safer."

Source: Frontiers

About the Author
I am a scientific journalist and enthusiast, especially in the realm of biomedicine. I am passionate about conveying the truth in scientific phenomena and subsequently improving health and public awareness. Sometimes scientific research needs a translator to effectively communicate the scientific jargon present in significant findings. I plan to be that translating communicator, and I hope to decrease the spread of misrepresented scientific phenomena! Check out my science blog: ScienceKara.com.
You May Also Like
FEB 16, 2022
Cardiology
The Future of Artificial Intelligence and Valvular Heart Disease
FEB 16, 2022
The Future of Artificial Intelligence and Valvular Heart Disease
The heart is made up of valves that open and close with blood flow as the heart muscle relaxes and contracts. Valvular h ...
APR 12, 2022
Cardiology
What Happens During a Heart Attack?
APR 12, 2022
What Happens During a Heart Attack?
Knowing could save your life.
JUN 25, 2022
Neuroscience
'Feeling Younger' Boosts Rehabilitation Outcomes in Older Patients
JUN 25, 2022
'Feeling Younger' Boosts Rehabilitation Outcomes in Older Patients
How old a person feels is more predictive of their rehabilitation outcome than their chronological age and underlying he ...
JUN 29, 2022
Clinical & Molecular DX
New Study Shows Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Adult Cancer Survivors
JUN 29, 2022
New Study Shows Higher Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Adult Cancer Survivors
With modern diagnostics and treatments, cancer survival rates continue to improve. Though numbers vary depending on the ...
JUL 13, 2022
Cardiology
Eating Eggs May Lower Heart Disease Risk
JUL 13, 2022
Eating Eggs May Lower Heart Disease Risk
Eating up to one egg per day may lower heart disease risk.
AUG 02, 2022
Cardiology
Exercising 150-600 Minutes Per Week Leads to Lowest Death Risk
AUG 02, 2022
Exercising 150-600 Minutes Per Week Leads to Lowest Death Risk
People who exercise for two to four times the recommended amount per week see major reductions in all-cause mortality.
Loading Comments...