baby scan technology

A new, detailed scan of a baby’s heartbeat within the womb has recently been shared by researchers. The team from the King’s College London, captured the unprecedented images via MRI scans. It is hoped the new screening will help to improve the level of care provided to babies who suffer from congenital heart disease.

Understanding the technology

The technology behind the detailed images works using an MRI machine. It produces several 2D pictures of baby’s heart, taken from numerous angles. These images are then pieced together by sophisticated software.

The software adjusts the images according to the beating of baby’s heart, building up an extraordinary 3D image. This provides a clear view of any abnormalities.

Study proves successful for 11-month old Violet-Vienna

The study into the new baby scan technology has already proved invaluable for babies like now 11-month old Violet-Vienna.

During a routine 20-week ultrasound scan, Violet’s mother, Kirbi-Lea Pettitt, discovered her baby had abnormalities. After taking part in the study to test the new equipment, it was discovered her baby’s main artery from the heart was narrowed. This would have blocked the blood vessel not long after birth. There were also two holes within the heart detected.

However, detecting the issues meant that doctors were able to save baby Violet-Vienna’s life after she was born. Violet was immediately taken away after the birth and placed onto medication to keep the blood vessel open. Then, heart surgery was carried out a week later, and today the 11-month old is thriving.

Without the detailed images produced by the new software and MRI scan, baby Violet-Vienna may not have survived.

The potential benefits it could provide

The initial study carried out shows just how crucial this new baby scan technology could be for baby’s suffering with congenital heart problems. It is thought up to eight babies in 1,000 are born with congenital heart issues in the UK.

After consultant paediatric cardiologist, Professor Reza Razavi, almost lost his child when she was born with a congenital heart problem, he wanted to improve the diagnosis of the condition. It was a powerful motivator, which ultimately led to the development of the new baby scan technology.

Now, it is hoped the technology will be implemented as a routine diagnostic tool for those at high risk of the condition. The 3D images produced are remarkable, and as the studies have already shown, they are successful at pinpointing heart defects in stunning detail. This could lead to much more effective treatment being provided once baby is born. If a treatment plan is already in place, it reduces the risks and increases the chances of survival.

The technology will be easy to adopt into practices which already have MRI screening equipment. The only additional equipment required would be a computer and graphics card.

Overall, this new technology could prove a game changer in the industry. An alternative option could be to use four different ultrasound probes simultaneously, rather than just one, in order to get a clearer picture.

endometriosis treatment in Sutton Coldfield

If you are one of the roughly 10% of women worldwide suffering from endometriosis, you’ll know just how frustrating and painful the condition can be. Seeking a correct diagnosis and effective treatment plan isn’t easy and the condition can have all kinds of implications on your health.

A new review has identified the barriers associated with endometriosis care and the areas which need to be improved. Here, we’ll look at what the review revealed, and the areas needed to be improved in order to diagnose and treat the condition.

Understanding the review

The expert review published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology was carried out by a Society for Women’s Health Research group. It included input from researchers, patients and clinicians on the concerns over barriers to endometriosis care.

At the moment, the condition is under-researched and underfunded, leading to delays in diagnosis and treatment. Numerous barriers were identified in the report including:

  • Lack of awareness as well as knowledge about the condition
  • Treatment option limitations
  • Stigma surrounding women’s pain and menstrual issues
  • A lack of non-invasive diagnosis tools
  • Difficulty getting access to care

The experts behind the review are hoping it will lead to further research into the condition and the development of better diagnosis and treatment options.

More research required into basic biology of endometriosis

In order to speed up diagnosis, experts recommend more research needs to be done into the basic biology of endometriosis. This will allow a much deeper knowledge of the condition and enable professionals to give a more accurate and faster diagnosis.

It will also help with the development of non-invasive diagnostic tools. As it stands, diagnosing the condition can be invasive and this does put women off seeking a diagnosis.

A call for future treatments to be patient-centric

In terms of endometriosis treatment, experts are calling for a more patient-centric approach. The current treatments available do not work for all women, and if they do, the relief is sometimes only temporary.

The treatments available also largely focus on managing pain and other symptoms. A good example is the removal of endometrial lesions. These lesions are often removed in the hope of eliminating pain, as well as reducing the chances of infertility. However, the actual link between lesions and these types of symptoms isn’t fully understood. So, removing them won’t necessarily eliminate the pain, and if it does there’s a chance that pain could come back.

In order to improve endometriosis care, experts are claiming a patient-centric approach is key. Instead of focusing on just one symptom at a time, the treatments provided should instead be focused around the patient as a whole. They should also be provided by a team of experts in medical management, laparoscopy, physical therapy and pain education.

Endometriosis can be an incredibly painful and debilitating condition and this new report shows just how much improvement is needed within its treatment and diagnosis. More research needs to be carried out to understand the biology of the condition and to develop better, faster diagnosis procedures.

premature birth risk

A new test has successfully been developed by scientists from the University of California San Francisco, which can accurately detect a woman’s risk of preeclampsia or premature birth. It is believed detecting the risks early gives doctors the ability to treat the problem before it leads to serious complications later on.

Premature birth is currently known to be the leading cause of death in children younger than five. It’s become an increasing problem, leading scientists to search for a solution. This new test is a revolutionary step to preventing both preeclampsia and premature births.

What is the new test for preeclampsia risk?

The new test has been designed to detect early risks of preeclampsia or premature birth from as little as 10 weeks into the pregnancy. It screens an impressive 25 biomarkers of immune system activation and inflammation. The test also looks at the protein levels which are crucial for the development of the placenta.

It has impressively proven to be 80% accurate at detecting the risk of preterm birth, and almost 90% accurate at detecting preeclampsia.

How was it developed?

This revolutionary test was developed after researchers looked at blood sample results from 400 women during the second trimester of their pregnancy. They then compared the results between the women who went on to give birth full term, between 32 and 36 weeks and women who gave birth earlier than 32 weeks.

Initially, the researchers analysed 60 different growth and immune factors, before narrowing it down to the final 25 factors.

Can it prevent all premature births?

Although the test does have an 80% chance of detecting premature birth risk, it is worth noting that it will not necessarily prevent all cases. The scientists claim it can prevent some premature births and help to identify risk factors.

So, while it may detect risk factors, enabling treatment to be sought early on, there is no guarantee it will eliminate the risk of premature birth completely.

How does it differ to existing tests?

There is currently a test already offered to detect the risk of premature birth. However, it is typically designed to be used later on in the pregnancy. The new test developed can be used as early as 10 weeks into the pregnancy. So, it has the potential to identify the risk long before complications occur.

The existing test also only detects potential risks of spontaneous premature births, while the new test also identifies indicated premature births, as well as preeclampsia. Then there’s the cost difference. The existing test is known to be expensive, a cost not all pregnant women can afford. The new test, however, has been designed to be affordable for everyone. This is especially important because, during their research, the scientists discovered women on low incomes were often at a higher risk of premature birth, along with women over the age of 40.

Overall, this new test is an exciting development and could prove successful in preventing premature births and complications from preeclampsia. It isn’t set to be offered by the NHS anytime soon, so you will need to book a private screening if you want to undergo it.

In recent years, there has been an increased number of children diagnosed with autism, causing experts to question whether ultrasound scans could be behind it. However, after carrying out a study, it appears there is no link between ultrasound pregnancy scans and autism.

The results, published within JAMA Paediatrics, showed children who are diagnosed with autism, had fewer ultrasound scans on average. This provides peace of mind to pregnant women who may be concerned about the effects ultrasound scans have on their baby.

Understanding the results of the study

The results of the study carried out by scientists at the Boston University School of Medicine and the Boston Medical Center, should prove reassuring to parents. It was carried out to determine whether the rise in the number of ultrasound scans could be a contributing factor in the increased autism diagnosis rate.

After comparing the number and energy of ultrasound scans used on children diagnosed with autism and those who are not autistic, it was revealed those with autism actually had less exposure to ultrasound scans. It is known, however, that ultrasound has the potential to heat up the tissue. This, in turn, can cause damage, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy.

There have been studies carried out on animals which have suggested ultrasound can impact the developing brain. In a study carried out on mice, for example, it was discovered ultrasound exposure within the womb caused them to be less social. There have also been studies which have shown children are more likely to be left-handed after exposure to ultrasound. However, in terms of autism, the majority of cases do not appear to be linked to ultrasound scans in pregnancy.

Deeper ultrasound scans could increase the risk

Although largely reassuring, the study did show that deeper ultrasound scans could increase the risk of autism. One of the main reasons deeper ultrasound scans are needed relate to excess abdominal fat. Therefore, weight management could prove to be a successful way to minimise the risks.

Age could also be a contributing factor, as studies show mothers of children diagnosed with autism appear to be over the age of 35. As it stands, researchers aren’t quite sure what these results mean, and further studies will be required to determine the numerous factors associated with autism.

Private scans should not be conducted “just for fun”

Although it has largely been discovered that ultrasound scans do not directly increase the risk of autism, experts still advise against having additional scans carried out for fun. It is known excess levels of ultrasound can negatively impact brain development, so logically, the more scans you have, the greater the risk.

Private scans can prove crucial for those worried about the health of their baby. However, patients considering having more than one additional scan purely for the photo memories they provide, should reconsider.

In conclusion, standard ultrasound scans do not appear to increase the risk of autism. However, additional research is required to determine the true risk factors behind the condition. Patients should also be wary of undergoing too many private scans, especially if they are deeper ultrasound scans.