Research

Newly developed device creates a breakthrough in pregnancy and birth monitoring


The invention has been refined into a monitoring system, CentaFlow, which is based on the analysis of sounds from the pulse rate in blood vessels in relation to the placenta and hence the child, plus sounds from the child’s cardiac valves. This enables easy access to information that until recently required an ultrasound scan.

There is a particular interest in pregnancies where there is a risk of the child not receiving the needed supply of blood – either because the placenta is not working as it should, or because the pregnant woman has a risk condition like high blood pressure or diabetes. In such cases, the woman will be offered a series of check-ups in the hospital with specialized ultrasound scans.

CentaFlow opens up new opportunities, also on a global scale. The system could make a difference, especially in developing countries where pregnant women are currently not offered monitoring like ultrasound scans when developing conditions that include risks for mother and child.

Since the system is wireless, it can be used as a diagnostics test that works for longer periods at a time – e.g. during birth or home monitoring where the application is pretty broad. This is a huge advantage, since information about the placenta’s function and hence the child’s oxygen supply is the most essential information about the child’s health condition – all the way through pregnancy, but also during birth itself, where the child’s health is challenged by hours of labour.

Though the invention builds upon an existing technology, it is not a method that has been available for this particular purpose where big breakthroughs are sparse. The invention has thus been matured through monitoring of 300 participants on the Regional Hospital of Viborg, and has been part of a bigger research project in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen, where the system has been tested in a hospital in Tanzania. A cohort study has been planned with app. 500 participants in pregnancy and labour within a post-doc framework starting 2017.

Behind the ground-breaking technology is midwife and PhD student Diana Riknagel together with associate professor Birthe Dinesen and Professor Johannes Struijk. The technology has been matured through proof-of-concept means and the PhD arrangement at the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education. The research has received three awards during the last year (the IFPA Loke Award, the IFPA Elsevier New Investigator Award and the Hanne Kjærgaards Mindelegat).

The telehealth company Viewcare A/S takes care of the ensuing commercial development of the technology in collaboration with Aalborg University. The collaboration has until now led to three patent applications and is well on the way towards CE-approval of the new equipment for fe and birth monitoring.

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