Monday, September 3, 2007
Medical Reports: Detecting Danger
Just like adults, babies can suffer from conditions like Anemia while they're developing in the womb. In the past, doctors had to do invasive surgery to diagnose the problem. But, as 7's Richard Lemus shows us, doctors now have a new way for Detecting Danger.
WSVN -- A lot can go wrong when a baby is developing in the womb. Jacintha Doner knows all too well.
When she was pregnant with little Warren, she learned her negative blood type didn't mix well with Warren's positive blood type.
Jacintha Doner: "Basically what is happening is your blood is attacking the baby's blood because it thinks it's a foreign antibody in my body."
It can lead to fetal anemia, a dangerous condition for unborn babies.
Dr. Gareth Seaward: "The babies with moderate or severe anemia can develop heart failure and actually die in the uterus."
High-risk mothers are typically monitored with ultrasound. If fetal anemia is suspected doctors then do what's called an amniocentesis, something that could trigger a miscarriage.
Dr. Gareth Seaward: "We normally quote the women at least a one percent risk of losing the pregnancy each time we do an amniocentesis."
But now, doctors have a new hi-tech tool. Doppler Ultrasound, is performed just like a regular ultrasound, but it focuses on measuring blood flow in a major brain artery.
Dr. Gareth Seaward: "The more anemic the fetus, the less circulating red blood cells there are. The less viscous the blood is, the faster it moves."
Dr. Seaward recently studied 187 pregnant women whose babies were at risk. His research showed Doppler Ultrasound is actually better than amniocentesis at finding fetal anemia.
Dr. Gareth Seaward: "It is probably the most important research I have done to date, and I am not sure that I am going to be able to eclipse that."
Jacintha is expecting again. This time she's getting a Doppler Ultrasound every two weeks to make sure her next little one is safe.
Jacintha Doner: "The difference between a Doppler Ultrasound and an amniocentesis is night and day."
She's hopeful baby number two will be just as healthy as baby number one.
Richard Lemus: "Doctor Seaward and his team no longer do amniocentesis on women if they suspect fetal anemia. He hopes his research leads other centers across the world to follow."
Media and Communications Specialist
Mount Sinai Hospital
Toronto, ON, Canada