The STAN S21 Fetal Heart Monitor system®, designed by Sweden-based Neoventa, Inc., now under study in some 800 labors in the United States, seems to take some of the educated guesswork out of whether there is a real problem and helps physicians make better decisions quicker, Dr. Devoe says.
Previous studies during about 8,000 labors in England and Sweden found a 50 percent reduction in babies born with abnormal blood gasses, a 20 percent reduction in unnecessary C-sections and no hypoxic brain damage in babies monitored during labor with the device.
"When you get heart rate patterns where the condition of the baby is uncertain, your options are to continue to watch that pattern and see if it gets worse or go ahead and get the baby delivered now," Dr. Devoe says. "But when you add the ECG information, that can tell you early enough in the game that this heart rate pattern you are watching, not only is not going to get better, but the conditions that are producing it suggest that the chances of getting the (healthiest) baby mean you go now.
"This is really the first practical breakthrough in moving the field of monitoring to the next level, that is helping the precision of the tool and helping people who use it to make better clinical decisions," Dr. Devoe says.
Part of that help comes in an intense learning and certification process to ensure that investigators studying it and one day any doctor using it are getting optimal information to help them make critical decisions. Dr. Devoe worked with Neoventa on the U.S. version of the educational program.