The Safe Fetus Project: The long-range goal for this research is to identify physiologic characteristics - including specific fetal ECG waveforms and patterns of fetal heart-rate variability - that predict infection-related neurologic injury during pregnancy and labor. The objectives of this application are to develop and evaluate the computational techniques to analyze the raw and processed fetal cardiac signal for meaningful patterns, and correlate these findings with clinical, histopathologic, and serum markers of infection-related neurologic injury. The central hypothesis that guides this research is that infection alters cardiac electrophysiology at the level of the brainstem and the myocardium before irreparable white-matter injury has occurred. The rationale for pursuing this research path is that early identification of sentinel abnormalities of the fetal cardiac signal will facilitate the development of strategies to prevent infection-related neurologic injury in the future.
Specific aims :
Specific aim 1 : To develop advanced quantitative methods for analyzing morphologic features of the fetal electrocardiogram during pregnancy and labor in order to predict the development of intrauterine infection and inflammation.
Specific aim 2 : To develop advanced quantitative methods for analyzing heart-rate variability during pregnancy and labor in order to predict the development of intrauterine infection and inflammation.
Existing technology used to monitor pregnant women is unreliable and inaccurate. Our goal is to develop technology that makes pregnancy and labor safer, by identifying changes in the fetal electrocardiogram or heart rate that predict injury to the fetus or newborn.