Worldwide, there are over 3 million stillbirths and approximately 3 million newborn deaths each year, most in low-resource countries. About 2 million of these deaths are due to intrapartum hypoxia. There is a strong association between abnormal fetal heart rate and intrapartum-related deaths, therefore optimal fetal heart rate monitoring can help health workers identify at risk fetuses and take appropriate action to save lives.
Traditionally, health workers in low-resource countries have used a “fetoscope” to auscultate fetal heart rate. This is the most used tool but can be difficult in crowded maternity wards with a high patient/health worker ratio.