Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Professor Soheil Ghiasi is leading a team of researchers from UC Davis ECE, UC Davis School of Medicine and Los Angeles Bio Medical Institute (LA Biomed) on a $1.2-million grant from the National Science Foundation on improved intrapartum fetal monitoring.
Since introduction of electronic fetal monitoring (EFM) to labor and delivery rooms about half a century ago, the national rate of cesarean-section deliveries has risen five-fold. The main driver of increased cesarean sections is a concern for inadequate oxygen supply to the fetus brain, which can potentially result in hypoxic brain injury. While the number of cesarean sections has significantly increased over the past several decades, interestingly the rates of various health conditions associated with hypoxia, such as cerebral palsy, remain unchanged.
The fundamental problem is besides hypoxia, a number of innocuous factors can cause alarming EFM traces, which may lead to unnecessary medical interventions.
The research project aims to address this problem by research, development and validation of technology for intrapartum non-invasive transabdominal measurement of fetal blood oxygen saturation. An extensive evaluation plan in both hypoxic pregnant sheep models and human subjects is underway.