Monitoring the status of the fetus and uterus during pregnancy is very important, but a new piece of wearable tech that comes in the form of an RFID belly band could make visits to the doctor’s frequent less frequent.
Wearable tech isn’t all about smartwatches and fitness trackers. This new field includes all sorts of gadgets that “attach” to some part of our bodies and offer us vital information about things that we could improve or we simply should be aware of. Fetal and uterine monitoring are extremely important, as it helps the doctor make sure that the fetus develops properly and that the mother doesn’t experience any complications. The belly band developed by researchers at Drexel University focuses on two essential aspects: uterine contractions and fetal heart rate.
Owen Montgomery, M.D., head of obstetrics and gynecology at Drexel’s College of Medicine and one of the researchers involved the the development of this belly band pointed out that “Current fetal and uterine monitoring requires patients to come into the hospital or testing center to be hooked up to a machine. For high-risk pregnancy situations these visits can be quite frequent and inconvenient. The technology is also limited in what it can monitor and in some situations, rather invasive.”
The belly band garment was designed by the researchers using computerized knitting software. The special yarn and the RFID technology enables doctors to monitor the aforementioned aspects rather accurately. At first, the belly band will by mainly used for measuring pregnancy contractions, but in time it should also become a useful tool for checking up on the fetus.
“Because this is wireless technology, doctors will be able to monitor their patients inside or outside of a hospital and perhaps eventually it will be developed into a monitoring service that could immediately signal medical professionals if there is a problem,” added Kapil Dandekar, PhD, a researcher in Drexel’s College of Engineering and a collaborator of Dr. Montgomery.
Dandekar expressed his enthusiasm regarding the progress of the team: “The initial data looks good. We’ve been able to reproduce the same trends we see on the tocodynamometer.”
Let’s hope that these researchers continue to improve this belly band and that we’ll get to see it in a commercially viable form in the not so distant future.
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