BookmarkBookmarkTick

Revolutionary Wireless Sensors Could Allow Skin-to-Skin Contact With NICU Babies

Because parents should be able to cuddle their newborn.
ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
March 1, 2019
father touching preemie in the nicu
Image: iStock

A set of wireless sensors has the potential to advance NICU technology. It’s still waiting approval, but the battery-free sensors are designed to be more comfortable for premature babies, while still collecting vital signs, National Geographic reports. The research was published in the journal Science, and comes from a collaboration of material scientists, dermatologists, pediatricians and students affiliated with Northwestern University.

The study was conducted at Prentice Women’s Hospital and Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, where 21 infants were monitored by traditional wires while simultaneously monitored by the new sensors. The new sensors were able to capture all the important information as well as blood pressure estimates.

Babies in the NICU are typically secured to wires to monitor vital signs like body temperature, heart rate, blood oxygen and more. If the new sensors get approved, it’ll virtually eliminate all of the wires.

Instead, the sensors are fastened to a baby’s chest and foot so they can collect and stream the baby’s vitals to a tablet, where data is read by NICU nurses and other medical professionals. The sensors were also developed with comfort in mind. When a baby is born early, the outer layer of skin hasn’t fully developed, so even slight tugs can cause pain or infection. The new sensors are ultra-thin and soft to avoid discomfort for baby.

And skin-to-skin bonding with premature babies isn’t always possible for parents when their baby is hooked up to several machines and wires. The sensors, however, would allow new parents more of a chance to enjoy a snuggle with baby. While skin-to-skin helps mom bond with baby, studies of full-term babies have also linked it to better respiratory function, longer breastfeeding sessions and stabilized body temperature.

With that in mind, there are some cords the sensors can’t eliminate. Many babies in the NICU require feeding tubes and other lines, as well as oxygen support systems called CPAP to assist with breathing.

While the sensors haven’t been approved by the FDA yet, the study’s authors think once it passes the review stage, they could be administered in hospitals in as a little as two years.

danielle fishel speaks at L.A. children's hospital about the bond she has with other NICU parents

Danielle Fishel Opens Up About Bond She Has With Other NICU Parents

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
03/04/2020
hand holding preemie foot in the nicu

NICU Nurse Treats Son of a Patient From 30 Years Ago in Sweet Surprise

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
02/19/2020
actress danielle fishel opens up about the trauma of having her newborn in the nicu

Boy Meets World Star Danielle Fishel Gets Real About Her Mom-Guilt

profile picture of Nehal Aggarwal
Nehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
10/15/2019
couple exchanging rings at their wedding ceremony

Bride Walks Down the Aisle Holding Preemie Baby at Hospital Wedding Ceremony

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
08/08/2019
actress danielle fishel karp gives birth 4 weeks early

Danielle Fishel Sums Up the Roller Coaster of Emotions When You Have a NICU Baby

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
07/02/2019
illustration of fireworks over a city

World’s Smallest Surviving Baby Finally Goes Home

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
05/31/2019
preemie baby in the hospital being cared for by doctor

Study: Special Form of Therapy Proven to Help Premature Babies’ Brains Develop

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
05/29/2019
world's smallest baby goes home

World's Smallest Surviving Baby Boy Is Sent Home After Months in the Hospital

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
02/28/2019
Dad holding son playfully yelling.

Dad's Adorable Photos Capture His Preemie Son Doing 'Manly' Things

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
02/06/2019
coffee beans in canister, study shows they caffeine can help preemies

Premature Babies’ Brains Benefit From Caffeine in First Few Days of Life

profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
12/13/2018
Article removed.