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New test for oxygen levels during labour

A new sensor is being developed to help doctors and midwives assess fetal oxygen levels during labour.

Posted: 15 February 2006
by Laura Lee Davies

A new sensor to detect a baby's oxygen levels during birth could help reduce the number of caesarians currently taking place in Britain.

Researchers at the University of Warwick believe their new test - which uses a probe to take a blood sample from the baby's scalp while it is still in the womb - can help to minimise brain damage and also reassure more obstetricians that all is well where currently, a caesarian birth is being selected as a precaution.

There are already tests for oxygen deprivation (fetal hypoxia) which can be carried out during labour, but they are not always reliable. If a baby suffers a lack of oxygen during the birth it can cause brain damage, although this condition affects less than one in every thousand births each year.

The 'on the spot' test would be far quicker than current tests which rely on returning laboratory results as swiftly as possible, but it is still in development and will not be tested on humans for at least two more years.

For more information on the sensor, visit Warwick University's website.

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fetal hypoxia, foetal hypoxia, hypoxia, fetal, brain, birth, oxygen, labour, caesarian

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