The Ultimate Ultrasound

Pregnant woman getting ultrasound done
A doctor scans a pregnant woman on the examining table while her husband stands at her side.

"It looks so much like a real baby!" the expectant mother exclaims.

The ultrasound procedure has always been a familiar one for mothers-to-be, reports CBS News Correspondent Richard Roth. It allows them the opportunity to check the baby's progress inside the womb.

But new images are remarkably different. They are so detailed that you can count each of the fingers and the toes. You can even see the unborn infant yawn.

This is "four-d" technology, and the fourth dimension is time. This breakthrough technology is based on high-speed computer enhancement of ultrasound scans that can create a live picture of life before birth.

Dr. Stuart Campbell, an obstetrician, says, "adding a new dimension, you are able to see the surface features of the baby much more clearly."

Doctors say mothers who see their babies this early are more likely to give up smoking and drinking, and watch their diets.

Lucy Jones, an expectant mother, is overjoyed at being able to catch a glimpse of her child through this new procedure. "Seeing it on this you can actually, you feel like you can see around the edges of the face so yeah, it definitely gave it more of a human feature."

More than satisfying curiosity or reassuring parents to be, there's potential in this technology for a range of medical benefits, even life-saving treatment.

According to Dr. Campbell, 'four-d' technology offers many advantages, "you are able to diagnose abnormalities like cleft lip and palate much more easily."

"Four-d" imaging can also have a role in diagnosing heart problems, and performing precision biopsies.

But the sensation it's stirring right now is in the obstetrician's office.

Simon Jones, the expectant father, says, "previously when we had the earlier scans they were much more medical, just measuring limbs and all that sort of stuff. This time you actually feel as if you can really bond with the baby."

It's two months before birth and they can already say, "Gee honey, he looks a lot like you."

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