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Watch the first MRI video of a baby being born

(Bamber, C. et al. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Volume 206, Issue 6, June 2012)

Here's the first MRI video of a baby being born. It's a time-lapse video of stills, presented at a faster speed than real life.

Why is this useful? Because a better understanding of the actual anatomy of delivery should help provide safer deliveries and healthier babies. The video is part of a paper published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, and the authors suggest that MRIs could be used to assess whether vaginal delivery is going ok or whether an intervention is needed.

To orient you a bit, look for the bright white fetus's eyeball and the white thing on top of its head, which is the un-ruptured membranes of the amniotic sac with amniotic fluid inside. (In other words, this woman's water hadn't broken yet — yes, it's a myth that the water always breaks right at the beginning of labor).

On an MRI, things that contain more water appear brighter, hence the whiter watery insides of the eyeball and amniotic sac.

The video stops right before the baby's ears exit the vagina, the authors note, so that his hearing wouldn't be damaged by the noise of the MRI machine.

And in case you were wondering how the researchers fit a laboring mother into an MRI machine, which generally has a claustrophobic tube shape, they used a special open MRI:

Baby MRI still

This open MRI shape, rather than the classic tube, allowed researchers to image the birth of a baby. (Philips)

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