Experts more usually accustomed to tracking CCTV footage have partnered with Action Medical Research to try to find a way to prevent stillbirth.
Advanced technology could help track changes in foetal movements towards the end of pregnancy.
Bereaved mothers often say that their baby’s movements in the womb seemed to decrease in the days leading up to the stillbirth.
Sadly, about 4,000 babies are stillborn each year in the UK alone.
A three-year grant from the charity should allow developers to create a sophisticated monitoring system that can analyse movements recorded during ultrasound scans.
The research team are in the early stages of the project and will be taking one-minute long ultrasound scans of around 100 healthy women, who are five to six months pregnant, and recording what they see on DVD.
The scans provide moving pictures of the babies in the womb. The researchers are then using the surveillance expertise to see whether it is possible to recognise and analyse the babies’ movements using state-of-the-art computer programs, which incorporate pattern-recognition software.
Ultimately the researchers hope to develop a mobile device which pregnant women, at risk of stillbirth, could use in their own homes. They envisage relaying data from the device wirelessly to a computer. This could give doctors a chance to intervene in a way that could save the baby’s life, for example, delivering the baby early.