A new technique could allow expectant parents to hear their baby’s heartbeat continuously at home with a noninvasive and safe device that is potentially more accurate than any fetal heart rate monitor currently available on the market.
The device, which uses the same commercial sensors used in smartphones to horizontally or vertically orient the device, can record vibrations sent through a mother’s abdomen when her baby’s heart beats or when the fetus squirms and kicks. The sensors are barely a fifth-of-an-inch long, weigh next to nothing, and can run off a 3-V battery for more than 24 hours. The new monitor poses no risk to the fetus — it simply detects existing vibrations. The device could potentially reduce an estimated 2.6 million stillbirths per year worldwide.
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