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02 / 01 / 2009 - Your unborn baby cast in bronze ... it`s the new foetal attraction
A clinic is offering mothers bronze models of their unborn babies.
The London Ultrasound Centre, near Harley Street, is the first in the country to offer the service, which allows parents to 'celebrate' their babies in the womb.
A 3D printer uses ultrasound images to build a cast of the child. The models cost £1,200, take up to two-and-a-half weeks to make, and are created when the mother is at a safe stage of pregnancy at 24 weeks.
Doctors say the technology could also help improve survival rates for sick babies.
Accurate casts of birth defects could be taken in the womb then studied by surgeons before they operate.
The London Ultrasound Centre is headed by Darryl Maxwell, director of foetal medicine at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS trust, and Peter Demetris.
Mr Demetris told the Evening Standard the clinic is looking at a medical application for the baby-in-the-womb moulds.
He said: 'This is like taking a normal 3D picture, except our machine measures the volume of that image so it can create a model. The models are made at a safe stage of pregnancy when the baby is fully formed and starting to put on weight. It's amazing when the child is born because it's like you have met them already.
'We also have had parents whose babies have genetic conditions which means they may not survive. Having a memento of their child helps with the bereavement process.'
The 3D printer is normally used in industry to make car parts. The images from the mother's ultrasound scan are fed into the machine, which creates the model based on the measurements.
Life class: artist Nic Jackson with daughter Belle
Instead of ink, the printer uses a special dust which is built up layer by layer. An adhesive glues these layers together to form an accurate cast of the unborn baby. This mould is then used to make the bronze.
Artist Nic Jackson, 35, had a cast made of her daughter Belle, now aged one.
Ms Jackson, from north London, works for Cavendish Imaging, which has also been involved in the project.
She said: 'I had my own bronze made because I thought it would be a lovely and artistic way of celebrating Belle. It's amazing to see the model and then look at her now.'
This is the latest service for expectant couples to 'celebrate' their baby in the womb.
Other innovations by clinics include high-definition foetal scans which can be downloaded to iPods or mobile phones and shared with families and friends.
Source : Sophie Goodchild - DAILY MAIL