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The effect of antenatal imaging (ultrasound/ MRI) on maternal and paternal fetal attachment (bonding)


1st supervisor: Prof Susan Ayers

2nd supervisor: Dr Christina Malamateniou (External)

Research Centres

Maternal and Child Health Research

Project description

Recent technological advancements in antenatal imaging mean that expectant mothers can view more visually precise images of their unborn fetus than ever before. Images can be two-dimensional, three-dimensional or four dimensional, static or dynamic. Advanced image post-processing techniques with high spatial and temporal resolution can offer unique insights into the external appearance and early intrauterine behaviour of the unborn fetus. Antenatal image quality has become even more advanced with the advent of fetal MRI in the last decade. The availability of high quality antenatal imaging offers a new dimension into the relationship a pregnant woman develops with her unborn child and may influence maternal and paternal attachment to the fetus.

This PhD research will be conducted as part of a programme of research examining maternal-fetal attachment in the Centre for Maternal and Child Health Research. It links very well with the current strengths and expertise within the Division of Midwifery and Radiography, such as antenatal ultrasound (Gill Harrison), fetal MRI (Christina Malamateniou) and maternal mental health (Susan Ayers). Expectant mothers will be recruited by the extensive network of the supervisors in fetal medicine research (including King’s College London and the National maternity Hospital in Ireland). This project will offer unique insights on the impact of imaging technology on mothers’ attachment to the fetus in low and high-risk pregnancies, in normal imaging as well as in cases with diagnosed fetal abnormalities.  The perspective of paternal attachment to the fetus will also be sought.

The successful candidate for this PhD will work in the perinatal mental health research team at City, University of London, and collaborate with researchers and healthcare services across the UK and potentially in Ireland. Findings will inform future development and practice in antenatal imaging, also in relation to ways of communicating diagnostic information to parents.

If you would like to have an informal discussion please contact Susan.Ayers.1@city.ac.uk.