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Overview: 
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Umbiflow is a medical device that measures the resistance index (RI) in the umbilical cord of a foetus. Plotting the RI against gestational age, a single reading can be used to determine the level of risk of the pregnancy. This is achieved by a continuous wave Doppler apparatus consisting of a hand-held proprietary Doppler probe (transducer) with USB cable that connects to any windows-based notebook on which necessary software is installed."

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Currently, foetal growth rate, which is indicative of still birth risk, can only be determined at the at the primary healthcare level in South Africa. This is carried out by measuring the SF height manually using a technique involving a tape measure to determine the distance across the mother’s abdomen from the pubic bone to the top of the uterus. This technique can effectively determine a growth trend but cannot distinguish between a constitutionally small and healthy foetus and a pathologically small and therefore compromised foetus. As a consequence, all foetuses measuring small for their gestational age are being referred to a higher level of care for a Doppler test, the well-proven technology to differentiate between the two types of small-for-gestational-age foetuses. The Doppler technology is expensive and operating it requires sub-specialist training as a sonographer. The combined cost of the equipment and the training of the healthcare workers have put this technology out of reach of smaller centers in developing countries. Further, it is often inaccessible for at-risk mothers and their unborn children.

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To reduce these excessive costs, the Medical Research Council (MRC) Unit for Perinatal Mortality at Tygerberg Academic Hospital and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) developed a low-cost continuous-wave Doppler analyzer (Umbiflow) that can be operated by trained midwives and nurses and can identify foetuses at risk. The technology has been successfully trialed in South Africa and shown to contribute to a reduction in perinatal mortality when used as a broad screening tool in low-risk pregnancies.

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The Medical Research Council (MRC) Unit for Perinatal Mortality at Tygerberg Academic Hospital and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) collaborated to develop the Umbiflow technology.

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Cape Town

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