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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. "
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.
Taschana Taylor, who had complications during her recent cesarean section and whose daughter was taken to the NNU at Northwestern Medicine, said the experience was complicated by traditional sensors.
"Trying to feed her, change her, wrap her up, hold her, move her with her, the wires were a bit contained because we had a radius of three feet to be with her," he said. Taylor. "We are so excited about wireless. In theory, if she did not have the wires on her, maybe we could go for a ride in the room … that would just make the experience more enjoyable and more friendly with her.
The new technology would also protect the fragile skin of a premature baby, much thinner than an adult, and tore more easily. Nearly 45% of hospitalized newborns suffer from "skin lesions", largely due to the removal of medical devices bonded with adhesives, the researchers noted in the study. When pre-mothers who have spent time at the NICU reach the age of 7, more than 90% of children have scars, they added.
New thin and flexible sensors can "roll gently" on a baby's skin, said John Rogers, one of the authors of the study and professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Neurological Surgery at Northwestern University.
"They can adhere much less, but still robustly, to the surface of the skin, thus avoiding the risk of skin injury that often occurs with the types of tape that adhere to conventional sensors," Rogers said. .
The weight and weight of the threads also leave, which allows babies to move much more naturally, he added. It is also easier for nurses to clean tiny patients and engage with them.
The new technology has done no harm and the next step is to monitor the babies with wireless sensors, but without the associated standard wired configuration that has always been in place until now, said Rogers .
The new sensors could also help monitor burn victims and patients in cardiac and adult ICUs. There are also ambulatory care uses where people who need to have their chronic conditions checked out of the doctor's office could connect wireless sensors to their phones, Paller said.