Fetal heart monitor also tracks oxygen level
Device being tested at Northwestern 'takes away the guesswork'
Northwestern Memorial Hospital is testing a fetal heart rate monitor that also tracks the baby's oxygen level. (Brand X Pictures)
Northwestern Memorial Hospital is one of 14 medical centers nationwide that are testing the device, dubbed Stan by its manufacturer, Neoventa Medical in Sweden. It is approved by the Food and Drug Administration but available only to patients who agree to participate in the study.
"It's objective and interprets the oxygen use, so it takes away the guesswork," said Dr. Alan Peaceman, lead investigator of the study and chief of maternal fetal medicine at Northwestern. "We hope this will diminish interventions that did no good and increase the number of interventions that are needed."
Interventions include using forceps or a vacuum to help deliver the baby, giving the mother oxygen or IV fluids, or proceeding to a cesarean section.
Meade Whitaker, of Glenview, was happy to participate when she delivered her baby boy at Northwestern in 2011. "I was a week late and they had induced labor," she said. "I wasn't dilating, so it was slow. The monitor helped the doctor determine that I needed a C-section. I saw it as helpful and an opportunity to help with the study."
The monitor includes an electrode that is attached to the baby's scalp. It is inserted through the cervix and can be attached at any point during labor after the mother's water breaks, then remains in place until delivery.
Whitaker is one of 100 mothers who have participated in the study so far at Northwestern, said Peaceman. "When we've had 10,000 nationwide, we'll analyze the results," he said.
"Fifty years ago, we were primarily interested in making sure the mom was OK," Peaceman said of birthing. "Now, we have more tools to make sure the baby is OK too. We have to continue to evaluate new methods to make childbirth safer."
For more information about the study, call 312-926-2475.