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It’s immense, the moment an ultrasound lets an expectant mother hear her unborn child’s heartbeat. But many pregnant women around the world never get to experience it.

In many countries prenatal care is a costly, complicated, uneven endeavor. In Uganda, the government recommends four prenatal visits for pregnant mothers, though women – especially those who live in rural areas – don’t always have the money, time or means to travel to see a doctor at a medical center. They often look to local midwives for help, but midwives don’t always have access to modern medical equipment.

A group of young, African developers recently decided to use technology to take aim at this problem. Their company, Cipher256, created a smartphone-based ultrasound called WinSenga, an affordable fetoscope that plugs into a mobile phone and is operated using an app. In the past, expectant mothers had to imagine what doctors and midwives heard as they listened to their baby’s heartbeat through old-fashioned devices. The WinSenga device lets doctors and midwives more easily monitor the health of a fetus, but it also lets mothers in on the experience, allowing them to have a listen as the gentle whir of their baby’s heart is piped through headphones.


“It’s not just a great way to track the health of the pregnancy and raise awareness if there are problems. It brings peace of mind for the mothers. Mothers always want to hear their baby’s heartbeat,” said Joshua Okello, co-founder and team leader for Cipher256.



Source: Microsoft Blogs