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Childbirth-predicting software designed to warn of difficult deliveries


November 30, 2011

PREDIBIRTH is a software system that determines how likely pregnant women are to experience difficult labor, in order to reduce the need for emergency cesarean-sections

PREDIBIRTH is a software system that determines how likely pregnant women are to experience difficult labor, in order to reduce the need for emergency cesarean-sections

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In the United States, approximately one-third of all births are performed via cesarean-section. Here's another statistic: emergency C-sections are six to seven times more likely to result in death or harm to the infant, than are planned C-sections. Therefore, if a significant percentage of the emergency cesareans could instead be planned, that would potentially save a lot of babies. That's where PREDIBIRTH comes in. Developed by Dr. Olivier Ami and a team of researchers from France's Université Paris Sud, the software can accurately predict the likelihood of difficult births, based on MRIs of pregnant women's bellies.

The system works by using the supplied images to create a 3D model of the expectant mother's pelvis and the fetus, along with 72 possible trajectories that the baby's head could take when going through the birth canal. Using this model, PREDIBIRTH then digitally simulates the birth process, and determines how likely a normal birth is to occur.

When testing the system, it was supplied with magnetic resonance images from 24 pregnant women, who had given birth since the images were taken. The software rated 13 of the women as highly favorable for a normal birth, and those 13 did in fact not experience any complications. Three others, who were rated as a high risk for dystocia (difficult birth), went with an elective C-section. An additional three, who had emergency cesareans due to obstructed labor, scored a high risk of dystocia. Two other women who also had emergency C-sections, due to heart rhythm abnormalities, scored as mildly favorable and favorable. Finally, three others whose babies required vacuum extraction, were rated as mildly favorable.

Traditionally, the likelihood of dystocia is determined using a process called pelvimetry, which involves measuring the mother's pelvis. Reportedly, the results obtained by PREDIBIRTH are more accurate.

"Our simulation predictions seem to be a significant improvement over pelvimetry," said Dr. Ami. "With this virtual childbirth software, the majority of C-sections could be planned rather than emergency, and difficult instrumental extractions might disappear in the near future."

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth
1 Comment

There is not a country in the world that has such a large proportion of C-section deliveries. This can hardly be attributed to the fact that the women bearing children in the US are physically different than women in other parts of the world. It therefore seems evident that US medical mentality is the reason. Very often there is no real medical need to perform a C-section other than the slightly higher risk involved of a natural birth if/when something unplanned happens and with an eventual consequence that the baby might suffer some kind of permanent impairment. When this happens, the legal consequences for the delivering doctor can be very serious. It\'s a sad state of affairs when legal consequences take preference over medical concerns. The extra financial cost to society and physical stress to the mother of a C-section are not taken enough into account. I can now here some say that the stress to the baby is less with a C-section but after hundred of thousands of years, mankind seems to have overcome normal birth stress (if there is such a thing) with very little problem. I\'ve never heard anyone be able to recount their traumatic birth experience ;-) For those unlucky enough to have childbirth problems generations ago, natural selection used to take its\' course....

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