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Ultra-Fancy Ultrasound Technology

The ultrasound procedure is a familiar one for mothers-to-be. It checks the baby's progress inside the womb.

But the images created by new ultrasound technology are remarkably different from what you may be used to. They are so detailed you can count the fingers and toes, and even see an unborn infant yawn.

It's called "4D" technology. The fourth dimension is time--a high-speed computer enhancement of ultrasound scans that creates a live picture of life before birth.

"This is adding a new dimension, you are able to see the surface features of the baby much more clearly; you are able to diagnose abnormalities like cleft lip and palate much more easily," says Dr. Stuart Campbell, an obstetrician.

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

"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," says expectant mother Lucy Jones.

More than satisfying curiosity or reassuring parents, there's potential in this technology for a range of medical benefits, even life-saving treatment. It may help doctors diagnose heart problems and perform precision biopsies.

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

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

Two months before birth, parents can already say: "Gee honey, he looks a lot like you."
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