[01/12/05 - 12:00 AM]
National Geographic Channel Explores the Hidden World 'In the Womb'

[via press release from National Geographic Channel]

National Geographic Channel Explores the Hidden World 'In The Womb'

From 4-D Ultrasound Imagery to Revolutionary In Utero Surgery, Advanced Technology Takes You Into the Womb

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 -- From the moment of conception, every human embryo embarks on an incredible nine-month odyssey of development fraught with uncertainty. Now, cutting-edge technology makes it possible to open a window into the hidden world of the fetus and explore each trimester in amazing new detail.

On Sunday, March 6, 2005, at 8 p.m. ET/ 9 p.m. PT, the National Geographic Channel (NGC) presents "In the Womb," a two-hour special that uses the latest advances in technology to take viewers on the incredible adventure of a developing new life. Revolutionary 3-D and 4-D ultrasound imagery sheds light on the delicate, dark world of a fetus. Viewers will also have the chance to witness a rare fetoscope operation performed in the hope of correcting life- threatening complications before birth.

While 2-D black-and-white ultrasound images have become commonplace, their crude resolution and technical limitations offer only partial insight into the developing fetus. But space-age advancements in computer technology permit the creation of 3-D scans that transform those same shadow images into life-like pictures of the developing fetus. "In the Womb" features even more remarkable 4-D technology that adds the element of time to those 3-D pictures to produce action sequences of the fetus in real time.

"In the Womb" uses 4-D images to take an in-depth look into a mysterious world and chart unprecedented details throughout the stages of pregnancy. Witness the journey's beginning, as the embryo travels down the fallopian tube and implants itself into the uterine wall. Go inside the uterus as the first nerve cells are created, and return again a few weeks later to see how the spinal cord and brain have developed.

At end of the first trimester, see startling sequences of the fetus exhibiting reflex movements, which will be critical to its future survival in the outside world. The last trimester explores the fetus's ability to hear loud noises and deep tones through the fluids of the body, and even experience REM sleep.

At week 26, witness a second fetus diagnosed with a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, a rare and potentially fatal defect that forms a hole in the diaphragm of the fetus. If left untreated, the growing abdominal organs will push up through the hole into the chest cavity and limit the development of the lungs. A newborn usually dies from this condition a day or two after birth because it cannot breathe properly.

But through the miracle of science, a highly skilled surgeon is able to repair the problem by performing an operation in utero. Watch the delicate lifesaving operation firsthand from inside the womb as a fetoscope, specially fitted with a high-definition mini-camera, is inserted through an incision in the mother's stomach.

Using 2-D ultrasound to guide him, the doctor inserts the fetoscope through the womb, into the tiny mouth of the fetus and down the windpipe. Once inside the windpipe or trachea, see a small balloon inflate at the end of the fetoscope. Without harming the fetus, since the lungs are not used to breathe until after birth, the balloon is left to block the hole in the trachea and force the intestines back down into the abdomen. Two months later, the balloon is removed and a full term baby is delivered in the ninth month.

Viewers can also experience the world outside the fetus from a belly-eye view when the mother is fitted with a BUMPCAM. Watch from this vantage point to learn how the fetus responds to music playing or to nursery rhymes read aloud by its mother or father.

Taking you from conception to the moment of birth, "In the Womb" sheds light on a delicate but dark place and takes viewers right into the fragile and mysterious world of pregnancy.

"In the Womb" is produced for the National Geographic Channel by Pioneer Productions in cooperation with National Geographic Channel, National Geographic Channel International and Channel 4. Stuart Carter is the executive producer for Pioneer Productions. Toby MacDonald is the producer/director/writer of the program, along with contributor Professor Stuart Campbell and head of production Kirsty McLure. Special effect sequences were filmed by David Barlow and CGI effects were created by The Mill. For the National Geographic Channel, executive producer is Jenny Apostol; executive in charge of production is John Ford.

Based at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C., the National Geographic Channel is a joint venture between National Geographic Television & Film (NGT&F) and Fox Cable Networks. National Geographic Channel debuted to an initial 10 million homes in January 2001, and has been one of the fastest growing networks in history. The Channel has carriage with all of the nation's major cable and satellite television providers, making it currently available to 52 million homes. For more information, please visit http://www.nationalgeographic.com/channel.

SOURCE National Geographic Channel
Web Site: http://www.nationalgeographic.com/channel

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