Gestational age (GA) is frequently unknown or inaccurate in pregnancies especially in low Income countries. Most preterm infants are born in and die because gestational age (GA) is unknown or inaccurate. Early identification neonates or preterm infants may help link them to potentially Life-saving interventions.
Gestational age determination (dating) is very important for proper management of the neonates (babies). For neonatal management, different methods such as menstruation history, antenatal ultrasonography and clinical examination are used to determine gestational age. However, these methods are subject to considerable error (clinical neonatal scores and menstrual dating); they require a highly skilled operator, and they are not available in all health care facilities (ultrasonography). Therefore, to overcome the above-mentioned limitations, researchers at Stellenbosch University have developed a new technological device that will determine gestational age by measuring foot length. This device will provide high accuracy of measurement with reduced personal inaccuracies.
assessing probable gestation, much easier and quicker than utilizing scoring systems, such as the Ballard score (ref).
This technology measures foot length in mm using a computer-based program. The foot (may be right or left foot) is placed on a measuring element which automatically records and reflects a signal. The signal is then transferred to an ultrasonic device that will automatically do all necessary calculation and give an accurate gestational age based on algorithms. The device has the potential for additional features such as weight, and head circumference.
The device offers high accuracy and a quick method for estimating different gestational ages (GA) for babies. The device is easy to carry around and inexpensive, that has potential of added features weight and length. It is capable of replacing time consuming and inaccurate physical assessment scores for determining GA.
A South African patent is granted for this innovation (no. 2018/02399)
Prof Johan Smith, Department of Paediatrics and Child health, Stellenbosch UniversityDr Lizelle van Wyk, Department of Paediatrics and Child health, Stellenbosch University