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Transforming maternal care in developing nations

The UN estimates that 99% of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries. Tragically, most of these deaths are avoidable and attributed to inequality in access to health services.

An ultra low-cost baby scanner that can be plugged into almost any computer has been developed by EPSRC-funded engineers at Newcastle University, and could prove to be a lifeline for medical teams across the world.

This hand-held USB device works in a similar way to an ultrasound scanner, using pulses of high-frequency sound to build up a picture of the unborn child on the computer screen. Unlike hospital technology which can cost from £20K - £100K, the scanner can be manufactured for as little as £40.

The team hope that the device will be used to provide healthcare professionals working in the world’s poorest nations with basic antenatal information that could save the lives of hundreds and thousands of women and children.

“Imaging to obtain even the simplest information such as the child’s position in the womb or how it is developing is simply not available to women in many parts of the world. We hope that the very low cost of this device and the fact that it can run on any standard computer means basic antenatal imaging could finally be made available to all women.” Mr Neasham, Newcastle University. 

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