Pro basketballer Mike Chappell and wife Maisha saw their unborn baby in dramatic detail yesterday, thanks to a 3D ultrasound scan.
The couple are expecting a baby boy, their first child together, in March, and yesterday they tried out new technology which transmitted three-dimensional, real-time images of their son in a sepia hue.
Having seen the scan, they decided the baby looked remarkably like his dad, an American import who plays for the New Zealand basketball team the Breakers.
Although standard two-dimensional, black-and-white scans allow doctors to measure and assess the growth of the foetus, they reveal little about behaviour. The new scans mean movements as small as a smile can be captured.
The scan was carried out at Insight Radiology on Auckland's North Shore, which owns one of the $330,000 Philips 3D ultrasound machines.
Principal radiologist Richard Davis said conventional scans picked up problems such as harelips or club feet, but the new technology allowed far greater delineation and examination in utero, improving medical assessments.
Dr Davis said being able to see the baby's face so clearly helped fathers develop a greater sense of bonding: "A woman's got some bond with her baby because she's got it moving around, but for dad [pregnancy] is more at arm's length."
A conventional ultrasound costs $50 to $70. A 3D scan is about $100.