The Breakthrough

Doctors in Michigan spotted a large mass on a fetus' face 30 weeks into a woman's pregnancy, deducing that there was the possibility of the baby's airways being blocked upon birth. Using 3D printing technology, they were able to create a 3D model of the face with the help of specialized MRI images of the fetus' face. The 3D model was able to determine facial deformities in the baby like a cleft palate, which didn't obstruct any airways and ultimately led to the baby's safe delivery.

The Implications

Dr. Albert Woo of St. Louis Children's Hospital believes that 3D printing technology can provide a new tool for doctors to diagnose critical conditions in babies before they are born, such as  congenital anomalies and airway problems. The technology poses no risk to patients, however the current costs of such tests is incredibly high. As the technology continues to develop and the demand for such applications rise, the group believes that costs will drop and this process will gain widespread adoption.

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