Yearly, 15 million babies are born too early, with 1 million never making it to their next birthday. And in low-resource settings, the overview is even direr. Half of the babies born at 32 weeks or earlier die, whereas in the high-resource environment, virtually all of these babies survive.
To help cement this gap, an interdisciplinary group of Northwestern University researchers has built a new wireless, battery-charged, affordable monitoring system for newborn babies that can be implemented to provide clinical-grade care at any stage in any setting.
The new devices exceed the capabilities of existing, wired monitoring technologies to provide data beyond traditional vital indicators, along with crying, movements, body orientation and heart sounds.
These soft, flexible sensors are also far gentler on newborns’ fragile skin, and their wireless capabilities allow for skin-to-skin contact with parents.
Not only can this expertise lower risks by monitoring babies, but it can also monitor pregnant women throughout labor to ensure healthy and safe delivery and reduce chances of maternal mortality.
By carefully monitoring the most susceptible patients, physicians can be alerted to intervene before the infant or mom become critically ill.
Details about the know-how had been printed March 11 in the journal Nature Medicine, with extensive tests on newborns at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago.