Wireless sensors enable skin-to-skin contact with NICU babies



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/ Source: TODAY & # 39; HUI

By A. Pawlowski and Nicole McCartney

Devices that help doctors take care of the most fragile babies also have big drawbacks.

Sensors that measure the premature heart rate of the newborn, its respiratory rate and other vital signs in the neonatal intensive care unit require electrodes whose glue can hurt and heal delicate skin, as well as cables to avoid caresses and other necessary skin to skin contact.

Researchers at Northwestern University are today unveiling ultra-thin, flexible, ultra-thin and flexible wireless sensors, which they hope will be the answer. The technology is described in an article published Thursday in Science: A wireless sensor is placed on the baby's chest and a second on his foot, the data being transmitted via a near-field communication, similar to the technology used during the creation from a wireless connection. payment with a smartphone in a store.

It enhances the traditional configuration, which involves five or more cables and occupies "a huge amount of real estate" on the body of a tiny patient, said Dr. Amy Paller, one of the study's authors, Chair of the Department of Dermatology and Pediatrics. Professor at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University.

"If you've ever been to a neonatal intensive care unit, you know that these babies are just covered with a mass of wires," Paller told TODAY's HUI.

"It's very difficult to light babies, to hold them, to have close contact with babies … One of the advantages of a wireless system is that it is possible to continue to benefit from surveillance. as precise as possible. be moved in any way. "

Traditional wired monitors (left) and new wireless, flexible, thin and flexible monitors are modeled on a doll.Courtesy Northwestern University

Skin-to-skin contact is important for both the psychological relationship between a parent and the baby and the health of the newborn, as it reduces the risk of infectious diseases and liver and lung problems, Paller said.

More than 80 babies have now been monitored with wireless sensors – although wired sensors are still in place in each case to ensure 100% accuracy, she added. Preliminary results show that new sensors work like standard monitoring systems. The new technology can also monitor the temperature and continuously monitor blood pressure.

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