Using ultrasound to diagnose infections during pregnancy

Research taking place in Tommy’s Edinburgh centre has shown that ultrasound is a promising way of detecting infection early.

Infection in the womb during pregnancy can harm the growing baby, and lead to premature labour. Often, these infections aren’t obvious. But, it’s vital to find them early so they can be treated before they do any harm, or the baby can be delivered if it is struggling.

Research taking place in Tommy’s Edinburgh Centre for Maternal and Fetal health is looking at how ultrasound can be used to find inflammation and infection during pregnancy. So far, they have found that special ultrasound scans can detect when there is an infection in pregnant sheep. This works by picking up changes in the way the baby’s heart works when there is an infection present.

These early findings show that ultrasound may be a promising, non-invasive way of finding infections that can lead to premature birth. It is safe, fast, and would allow mothers to be treated quickly to prevent preterm birth or harm to their baby. 

Researchers

Sarah Stock, Matt Kemp, John Newnham, Scott White, Basky Thilaganathan

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Funding

This study takes place in a Tommy's centre and is funded by the British Maternal and Fetal Society, the University of Western Australia, and Sparks Charity

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