Detection and prevention of stillbirths 

The detection and prevention fetuses at risk for stillbirth; specifically, those not detected by traditional means using a continuous-wave Doppler ultrasound, an Umbiflow. A pilot study has been established in 9 sites in South Africa. The project has been extended to 5 African countries as Umbiflow international.

The development of Umbiflow was funded by the Council for Scientific Research (CSIR) and The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC). It is also the result of a successful collaboration between the Gauteng, Western Cape, and National departments of health.

An initial study conducted by SAMRC and the University of Pretoria’s Maternal and Infant Health Care Strategies Unit in Mamelodi, Pretoria, revealed that the device reduced the perinatal mortality rate in the study group by over 50% when compared to the control group.





The UmbiBaby study will follow up 300 infants from the current Umbiflow International study, which uses the innovative low-cost Umbiflow device to screen for in utero growth restriction due to placental insufficiency, which is thought to be one of the major causes of stillbirths in low- and middle-income countries.

In the UmbiBaby study, infants who have been identified with in utero growth restriction from the Umbiflow International study will be compared with premature and healthy full-term infants from the same study over the first year of life postpartum. The main outcomes of the UmbiBaby study will be the infant’s growth, body composition and neurological development and it is envisaged that the study will provide valuable information on the management of growth-restricted infants postpartum, who before Umbiflow screening may have been stillbirths.



  • Umbiflow SA: SAMRC & CSIR
  • Umbiflow International: WHO



Nkosi, S., Makin, J., Hlongwane, T. and Pattinson, R.C.,  2019. Screening and managing a low-risk pregnant population using continuous-wave Doppler ultrasound in a low-income population: A cohort analytical study. South African Medical Journal, 109(5), pp.347-352.

Hlongwane TM, Cronje T, Nkosi BS, Pattinson RC. The prevalence of abnormal Doppler's of the umbilical artery in a low-risk pregnant population in South Africa. EClinicalMedicine. 2021 Mar 18:100792.  
Vogel, J.P., Vannevel, V., Robbers, G. et al. Prevalence of abnormal umbilical arterial flow on Doppler ultrasound in low-risk and unselected pregnant women: a systematic review. Reprod Health 18, 38 (2021).
Mueller, D., Pattinson, R.C., Hlongwane, T.M. et al. Portable continuous wave Doppler ultrasound for primary healthcare in South Africa: can the EUnetHTA Core Model guide evaluation before technology adoption?. Cost Eff Resour Alloc 19, 8 (2021).
Hlongwane TM, Bozkurt B, Barreix MC, Pattinson R, Gülmezoglu M, Vannevel V, Tunçalp Ö. Implementing antenatal care recommendations, South Africa. Bull World Health Organ. 2021 Mar 1;99(3):220-227. doi: 10.2471/BLT.20.278945. Epub 2021 Jan 21. PMID: 33716344; PMCID: PMC7941100.
Mueller D, Pattinson RC, Hlongwane TM, Busse R, Panteli D. Portable continuous wave Doppler ultrasound for primary healthcare in South Africa: can the EUnetHTA Core Model guide evaluation before technology adoption?. 
Vogel JP, Vannevel V, Robbers G, Gwako G, Lavin T, Adanikin A, Hlongwane T, Pattinson RC, Qureshi ZP, Oladapo OT. Prevalence of Abnormal Umbilical Arterial Flow on Doppler Ultrasound in Low-risk and Unselected Pregnant Women: A Systematic Review. 
Media articles


- Author Cathy Bezuidenhout
Published by Johan Pretorius

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2021. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences