Monitoring of fetal electrocardiogram (fECG) would provide useful information about fetal wellbeing as well as any abnormal development during pregnancy. Recent advances in flexible electronics and wearable technologies have enabled compact devices to acquire personal physiological signals in the home setting, including those of expectant mothers. However, the high noise level in the daily life renders long-entrenched challenges to extract fECG from the combined fetal/maternal ECG signal recorded in the abdominal area of the mother. Thus, an efficient fECG extraction scheme is a dire need. In this work, we intensively explored various extraction algorithms, including template subtraction (TS), independent component analysis (ICA), and extended Kalman filter (EKF) using the data from the PhysioNet 2013 Challenge. Furthermore, the modified data with Gaussian and motion noise added, mimicking a practical scenario, were utilized to examine the performance of algorithms. Finally, we combined different algorithms together, yielding promising results, with the best performance in the F1 score of 92.61% achieved by an algorithm combining ICA and TS. With the data modified by adding different types of noise, the combination of ICA–TS–ICA showed the highest F1 score of 85.4%. It should be noted that these combined approaches required higher computational complexity, including execution time and allocated memory compared with other methods. Owing to comprehensive examination through various evaluation metrics in different extraction algorithms, this study provides insights into the implementation and operation of state-of-the-art fetal and maternal monitoring systems in the era of mobile health.
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