August 21, 2009

Moms-to-be warned of fetal home monitors

A British doctor warns mothers-to-be not to use personal monitoring devices because they may lead to a false sense of security and delay medical action.

Dr. Thomas Aust and colleagues at Arrowe Park Hospital in England told of a 27-year-old pregnant woman who presented to the hospital 32 weeks into her first pregnancy with reduced fetal movements.

The women had noticed a reduction in her baby's activity two days earlier, but said she had used her own Doppler fetal monitoring device to listen to the heartbeat and had reassured herself everything was normal. After monitoring the baby's heart, the child was delivered by Caesarean section. The infant has been treated in a special care baby unit for eight weeks and is making steady progress, Aust said.

The fetal monitors, usually used by midwives and obstetricians, are available for purchase online and some claim you will be able to locate and hear the heartbeat with excellent clarity, the researchers said.

However, Aust said in untrained hands it is more likely that blood flow through the placenta or the mother's main blood vessels will be heard via the Doppler monitors.

The findings are published in the British Medical Journal.