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Safeceps reduces the risks of giving birth; UWIC invention helps to prevent injury and death.

Byline: Madeleine Brindley Health Editor

PAINFUL and even potentially lethal forceps deliveries could become a thing of the past thanks to a former Cardiff student.

Dale Harper has revolutionised the design of traditional forceps in a bid to make them safer for mums and babies.

The former University of Wales Institute Cardiff student's Safeceps are capable of measuring the amount of pressure exerted on the baby's head during difficult births, reducing the risk of serious injury and trauma to mother and child.

It is hoped that the new Safeceps will help to restore confidence in forceps-assisted deliveries and transform how instrumental deliveries are perceived.

Safeceps have been made by PMI - PRO Medical Innovations Ltd - is a spin-out venture of UWIC.

Recent graduate Dale Harper is leading the project after starting work on the design of the instruments as part of his BSc in product design.

Dale, who has since been appointed at UWIC's National Centre for Product Design and Development Research, said: "There is a clear need for this product and our biggest market driver is safety.

"The interest of the child is everything and Safeceps will protect them by preventing against excess trauma, brain damage or death.

"Then there is looking after the mother and how an instrument is used has implications on her body.

Finally, Safeceps is also making it safe for the obstetricians who put their jobs on the line every time they use an instrument in assisted child delivery.

"The design of current forceps has not really evolved in centuries and if the obstetrician pulls too hard with the current instrument during birth, it can kill the child in extreme cases, while even normal use can cause facial damage and trauma.

"These cases have left mothers very fearful and clinicians are now more aware that failure toachieve a successful instrumental delivery is one of the important factors in the rise in Caesarean section rates.

"Obstetricians want the tool they use to be safe, reliable and give certainty in what they are doing.

"They want to know that nobody is going to come back and sue in five years time, as obstetricians have been taken to court in the past over damage caused during a forceps delivery.

"Because our instrument takes a record of the force used, it mitigates that risk against the obstetrician but in no way takes responsibility away."

The Safeceps are a plastic version of obstetric forceps which connect to a monitoring computer through a flexible cable.

When in use they measure the key forces being exerted upon the baby's head - the information is transferred to a computer screen.

It is now hoped that Safeceps will be taken to market.


PROJECT: UWIC graduate Dale Harper with his revolutionary Safeceps PICTURE: Tim Dickeson
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jan 19, 2009
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