The time has now come when mere survival of an infant can no longer be considered the index of successful obstetrics. It is thought that as many as one in ten surviving infants suffer some degree of damage in the process of labour. The two techniques to be described in this paper are attempts to derive methods for prognosing the ability of a foetus to withstand this process.
1. The Foetal Electrocardiogram: The examination of the FECG by the traditional methods of cardiology have proved very disappointing and unrewarding. If, however, the FECG is merely used as a means of recording the beat-to-beat interval of the foetal heart, statistical evaluation of this information can yield a valuable prognostic index.
2. The Foetal Ballistocardiogram: The purpose of the foetal heart (or for that matter the adult heart) is not to generate electrical signals but to propel blood through the circulation. One method of measuring this function in the adult is the ballistocardiogram and the application of modern signal recovery techniques has made it possible to derive the foetal ballistocardiogram.
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