New Scientist TV shows video of a baby's birth captured with an MRI.
Christian Bamberg and his team at Charité University Hospital in Berlin, Germany captured a baby's birth in progress with a video MRI.
The team announced this back in 2010, but they just recently released the video of the baby's birth. The open design allowed the medics access to the mother while she laid in the scanner and gave birth to her baby.
The video captured the second stage of labour as the woman expelled the fetus.
By using MRI, the team was able to examine the relationship between the movement of the fetus and its position as it travels through the birth canal, which should help doctors better manage labour and delivery. In the future, the team also hopes to visualise the first stage of labour using the same technique, possibly using the videos to create virtual-reality computer training.
Another team recently turned the MRI on for twins so that they could study a complication, called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, in which one twin received more blood than the other twin did, and therefore becomes larger than the other twin does.
"A lot of the so-called videos in the womb are very processed, so they do a lot of reconstructing and computer work afterwards. These are the raw images that are acquired immediately," says Marisa Taylor-Clarke of the Robert Steiner MR Unit at Imperial College London, who recorded the images.
She has been using the technique to study twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome, a relatively common complication in which the blood supplies of twins sharing the same placenta become connected. As the twin receiving its sibling's blood grows larger, the growth of the donor twin becomes stunted. In the worst cases it can prove fatal to both twins. Fortunately, an operation that involves blocking the shared blood vessels usually saves them, but its impact on brain development is relatively unknown.
Eventually, they hope to develop a tool to predict developmental problems well in advance of birth and assist parents in receiving the support they need after the child is born, especially in the case of twins.