4 May 1999

Newborn babies and interactive CD technology have been brought together to give medical students access to more babies than there are in the world.

The Physical Examination of the Newborn CD-ROM has images of babies born at the Brisbane Royal Women's and the Mater Mothers hospitals, including normal babies and babies who are sick or have malformations or other problems.

"The CD randomly selects from this database of babies so the student is actually examining a different baby each time they open it," the Brisbane Royal Women's Hospital Director of Perinatal Research, Professor Paul Colditz, said.

"The combinations of the range of things to be examined - such as the hands, the feet, the eyes, the ears, the pulse - means the CD has more babies than there are in the world."

The CD was developed with a grant from the University of Queensland's Action Learning Program. A team of neonatologists, obstetricians, educationalists and multimedia experts developed the concept and the programming was done by the University's Educational Multimedia Services.

The CD has been through its development and testing and will go into use with 240 University of Queensland Graduate Medical Course first-year students on May 24 and 25.

Professor Colditz said he hoped the CD would be used around the world to teach medical students how to examine newborn babies and how to identify what abnormalities or common variants looked like.

"After using the CD-ROM they will be better at it when they start looking at live babies," he said.
A session using the CD begins with a short video of Professor Colditz systematically examining a newborn baby.

"Then the student, using the computer's mouse, clicks on the various parts of the baby they should examine," Professor Colditz said.

"At the end of the ?examination' the computer tells them if they haven't been systematic or have missed some things and they have to go back and finish the examination.

"Then they can do it all again with another ?baby', giving them the chance to get an appreciation of the common variants and abnormalities they can expect to encounter with real babies.

"Most babies are normal and so the chance is limited for students to have experience with common variants or abnormalities in the time they spend in the neonatal nursery during their course."

Professor Colditz said the CD-ROM would be valuable for medical students, junior doctors and midwives who have had variable experience with examining babies and detecting sick or abnormal ones.

Further information, Professor Paul Colditz, telephone 07 3253 1761.