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4-D Technology Gives Parents, Doctors A New Look At Babies

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CARY, N.C. — For parents-to-be, there is nothing more exciting than those first glimpses of your child during an ultrasound. These days, there is a lot more to it than those grainy black-and-white pictures. Doctors are taking ultrasound technology to the next dimension.

Ultrasounds are nothing new for Shelly Luna. She had several when she was pregnant with her first daughter, but she has never had an ultrasound like the one Dr. Eric Deigan showed her.

Deigan is one of the first doctors in the country to use four-dimensional ultrasound. Traditionally, ultrasounds are three-dimensional and give parents-to-be a more realistic still picture, but now there is 4-D, which shows that same image, but also the baby moving inside the mother.

Deigan said the element of real time lets him see the baby in more detail than ever before. While the technology is eye-catching, it can also be used to detect problems.

"We see women whose pregnancies are high-risk for one reason or another," Deigan said. "Babies who have chromosonal problems, their ears are often lower and more set apart."

Close-up shots clue doctors in on specific abnormalities. When something is wrong, Deigan feels the realistic picture helps parents bond with their baby. They can see what the deformity looks like.

Luna said besides seeing her daughter's face, the new ultrasound puts some of her worries to rest.

"It's been really neat to get to see that everything's OK and that she's healthy," she said.

The quality of the picture depends on how the baby is positioned, the amount of fluid and the size of the baby.

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