Specialised instruments have been developed to aid the care of the fetus and the newborn baby. Miniature sensors using optical, electrical, chemical, mechanical and magnetic principles have been produced for capturing key measurands. These include temperature, pressure, flow and dimension, as well as several specific molecules such as glucose, oxygen and carbon dioxide. During pregnancy ultrasound imaging and blood flow techniques provide valuable information concerning fetal abnormalities, fetal growth, fetal breathing and fetal heart rate. Signal processing and pattern recognition can be useful for deriving indicators of fetal distress and clinical status, based on biopotentials as well as ultrasound signals. Fetal pH measurement is a critical requirement during labour and delivery. The intensive care of ill preterm babies involves provision of an optimal thermal environment and respiratory support. Monitoring of blood gas and acid-base status is essential, and this involves both blood sampling for in vitro analysis as well as the use of invasive or non-invasive sensors. For the future it will be vital that the technologies used are subjected to controlled trials to establish benefit or otherwise.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)