Prenatal Heart Monitors

Written by Rachel Arieff
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Prenatal heart monitors use a form of ultrasound technology, called Doppler ultrasound, to register the heartbeats of developing fetuses as young as ten weeks old. What is Doppler ultrasound? Very basically, it's the transmission of high-frequency sound waves through the mother's abdomen and into the womb. When the sound waves contact the surfaces of the fetus, they bounce back through the womb into the machine.

Millions of these waves travel through the womb in each Doppler ultrasound session. It should be noted that these waves, after decades of study, have never been found to have any ill effects on the mother or the unborn baby. Upon their return to the machine, the waves help to create an image of the fetus inside. They can tell doctors important information about the condition of the fetus; for instance, its position, whether there is more than one fetus present, or whether there are abnormalities in the lining of the womb.

The Benefits of Prenatal Heart Monitors

Another thing that prenatal ultrasound can detect is the presence of congenital abnormalities such as spina bifida or cleft palate. The earlier the detection, the better the results of the special medical treatment that they require. Prenatal heart monitors come into play regarding the baby's heart rate. The same ultrasound waves that can create two, three and four-dimensional images of the baby can also be converted into sound representations of the baby's actual heartbeats.

In other words, baby heart monitors are not microphones. They're actual measuring tools for parents and doctors to get a real-time glimpse into the unborn baby's heart activities. With prenatal heart monitors, they can tell whether the baby's heart rate is consistent and within the acceptable range of beats for its size, as well as whether adequate blood and oxygen flow is taking place.

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