Sonographers at Lagan Valley Hospital have undertaken specialist fetal cardiac training to help detect heart defects in babies during pregnancy scans.
Staff at the local hospital, and others across the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, received the training from charity Tiny Tickers
Each year there are around 24,500 babies born in Northern Ireland, and around 200 of them will have a life-threatening heart condition.
Early detection of these heart defects before birth means the babies’ delivery and care after birth can be carefully planned to give every baby the best chance of survival.
Finding out that their baby has a heart condition before birth also helps prepare parents and families for the birth of their baby.
Working with the Health and Social Care Board and the Public Health Agency, Tiny Tickers is providing training to more than 90 sonographers in hospitals across Northern Ireland.
The training will cover the most up-to-date recommendations on what sonographers should be looking for when they are looking at the heart as part of the 20-week scan.
The hands-on training is being made possible by generous funding provided by Tiny Tickers ambassadors, former champion jockey Sir Anthony (AP) McCoy and his wife Chanelle.
Tiny Tickers’ Chief Executive, Jon Arnold, said: “Tiny Tickers is here to help sonographers, giving them the skills and confidence to spot when a baby’s heart doesn’t look normal. Spotting a defect during a 20-week pregnancy scan can be very difficult, so we’re giving sonographers all the support we possibly can.
“We know the difference early detection makes for these babies and our training scheme is already delivering real measurable improvements.”
Dr Joanne McClean, Consultant with the Public Health Agency, thanked Tiny Tickers for their support.
“We are delighted to be working with Tiny Tickers on this project. The Tiny Tickers training is part of an initiative aimed at improving the antenatal and subsequent cardiac care available for children across the region,” she said.