Fetal movements, and a baby’s movements after birth, are essential for the health of the baby, and in particular, for normal development of the bones, joints and spine. Conditions affecting newborns which are caused by reduced fetal movements include developmental dysplasia of the hip, congenital scoliosis and arthrogryposis. Much remains unknown about how much movements is necessary for normal skeletal development, when movement is most important, and if the effects of reduced movement on the skeleton can be mitigated. The Developmental Biomechanics Group, led by Prof Niamh Nowlan, is exploring how fetal and postnatal movements affect formation and development of the bones and joints, and also how fetal movements are indicative of the health and development of the unborn baby.
We are currently bi-located between the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering in University College Dublin (Ireland), and in the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College London (UK).