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By the BBC's Riz Lateev
"The ultimate aim is to make pregnancy healthcare in the home available to all"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 19 December, 2000, 12:27 GMT
Pregnancy healthcare online

Young mothers can check their babies' health online
By the BBC's Riz Lateef

A scheme has been launched to provide education, telemedicine and advice online for pregnant women and young mothers.

EMUM or Educating Mothers to Understand Maternity is a partnership between Oxford University and the Great Yarmouth Young Women's Project.

Among the services EMUM provides is a foetal heart rate monitoring system, which can feed live foetal heart rate and activity data down a telephone line to the hospital.

Hayley: "Easier to understand"

For 17-year-old Hayley it means she can find out about more about her health and that of her baby without having to visit the hospital

She said: "Now I know it's available I'd use it a lot more often than going to the hospital or the doctors for a check-up. It's a lot easier to understand on the computer."

The women on the scheme can also log on at the centre to discuss issues of concern or interest to them with other young mothers.

Discussing them further with trained midwives and other healthcare professionals is also an important part of the process.

As the project develops mothers will eventually be able to log on from their own homes.

Midwife welcome

Midwife Nicola Lythell: Empowering young mums

Midwives have welcomed telemedicine and the online education.

Nicola Lythell is a Sure Start midwife who works at the Great Yarmouth Young Womens Project.

She said: "The website is unique in that we can enable the girls to learn to use the computer and empower them to look up information about themselves and their babies."

Dr Paul Johnson, who heads a research group at Oxford University, said that the UK has the highest rate of teenage of pregnancies in Europe.

Teenagers are most likely experience complications during pregnancy, and for this reason EMUM was designed with young mothers in mind.

Dr Johnson said: "We found by bringing monitoring to patients in the home is they really welcome it, and they take ownership of their measurements, they learn much more about it.

"The really great advantage is for those patients are socially excluded, many of whom won't go to hospital. "

The Centre in Great Yarmouth hopes that this technology will be a breakthrough in healthcare reaching young mothers.

But the ultimate aim in the future is to make pregnancy healthcare in the home available to all.

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