KEEPING a close watch on baby and mother during pregnancy is crucial, but the equipment to do this is often found only in hospitals.
So mothers who live far from medical centres must make long journeys to receive routine scans.
This could soon change thanks to a portable fetal-monitoring package based around a smartphone.
It could provide broader access to cheap monitoring systems for those in remote locations and in countries without access to the most advanced prenatal technologies.
Designed by a team of engineers, computer scientists and obstetricians at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the system uses commercially available sensors to monitor the fetal heartbeat during pregnancy or the mother's contractions during labour.
|EFM Monitoring Activity|
That information is sent via Bluetooth to an Android smartphone, which processes it before relaying it to the main hospital database using whatever connections are available.
Dimitrios Mastrogiannis, the lead physician on the project, says that other health measures such as maternal oxygen saturation or blood-glucose monitors could be integrated into the system.
The work is being presented at the BodyNets conference in Oslo, Norway, this week.