Parents-to-be could soon be able to watch their unborn bundles of joy stretching, wiggling and even swallowing while in the womb thanks to a revolutionary new MRI scan.
Expectant parents have had to be content with grainy ultrasound images but a leap in technology means the pioneering scan can even show high quality clear images of a 20-week-old baby’s heart, about the size of a one pence piece, thumping – and how a hefty kick ripples through a mother-to-be’s tummy.
The £10million development by a London-based team of medics of the new-style scan offers a glimpse of how all mothers might view their babies in the not too distant future.
Using algorithms, magnetic fields and radio waves, the new-style scan creates extra-high quality moving footage. The entire womb is captured so parents – and doctors – have a really clear idea of what exactly baby is up to.
Dr David Lloyd, a Clinical Research Fellow at King’s College London and part of the project said: ‘Taking pictures of a 20 week fetus while they’re still in the womb really isn’t that easy.
‘Ultrasound technology – used in all routine antenatal scans in the UK – is actually fairly good at visualising these tiny structures.
‘It uses very high frequency sound waves which are reflected back (‘echo’) from the structures inside the body to produce an image.
Unlike ultrasounds, the high-tech scan shows beneath the baby’s skin and beats normal MRI scanners by using complex technology to get usable images from even babies who move a lot in the womb.
The iFIND project hopes its technology will eventually improve antenatal scans for all mothers-to-be and be rolled out globally.