UEA scientists design pioneering birth simulator

The 3D virtual birth simulator that has been developed at the UEA.

The 3D virtual birth simulator that has been developed at the UEA. - Credit: Archant

Computer scientists in Norwich are working to create a 3D virtual birthing simulator to help doctors and midwives prepare for unusual or dangerous births.

The technology, which has been designed by researchers at the University of East Anglia, will be presented at an international conference in Romania today.

The new programme takes into account factors such as the shape of a mother's body and the positioning of the baby to provide patient-specific birth predictions.

Dr Rudy Lapeer, of the UEA's school of Computing Sciences, who is leading the project, said: 'We are creating a forward engineered simulation of childbirth using 3D graphics to simulate the sequence of movements as a baby descends through the pelvis during labour.

'Users will be able to input key anatomical data – such as the size and shape of the mother's pelvis, and the baby's head and torso.

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'By doing this you will be able to set different bespoke scenarios for both the mother and baby.'

The research will be presented at the fourth International Conference on E-Health and Bioengineering today in Romania.

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The simulation software will see ultra-sound data used to re-create a geometric model of a baby's skull and body in 3D graphics as well as the mother's body and pelvis.

Programmers are also taking into account the force from the mother pushing during labour and are even modelling a 'virtual' midwife's hands which can interact with the baby's head.

Dr Lapeer added: 'Because this programme is patient-specific, doctors and midwives will be able to see how a birth may take place before it has happened on a case-by-case basis.

'For example, you would be able to see if a baby's shoulders will get stuck.

'We hope that this could help to avoid complicated births altogether by guiding people in the medical profession to advise on caesarean sections where necessary.'

Have you got a health story? Contact health correspondent Adam Gretton on 01603 772419 or email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

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