An Indian-American physician, along with a team, has developed a device to mimic mom and dad’s breathing, so that preemies are not deprived of close contacts while in intensive care.
“I was so familiar with the benefits of kangaroo care that I wanted all babies to have the benefit. So it triggered the thought, ‘if we can’t bring baby to the mother, why not bring mother to the baby?’” Dr. Munmun Rawat, assistant professor, Department of Pediatrics in the University at Buffalo is quoted saying in a May 9 press release.
There is a lot of evidence of the benefits of keeping a prematurely born child in a skin-to-skin contact with mothers, and in Rawat’s case, also the father. They include improving the baby’s ability to breathe, regulating body temperature and promoting weight gain, as well as long-term advantages to the baby’s cognitive and motor development while benefiting parents and boosting the mother’s ability to lactate, all based on four decades of clinical data and research on kangaroo care according to Rawat
She visualized an an incubator mattress that mimics the rhythm of mom and dad’s breathing, and their voices, and worked with students and faculty in the Department of Biomedical Engineering to develop that concept for babies too fragile to be held. The UB team has developed a prototype and will begin working on a technology disclosure.
A necklace made of sensors for the parents, gathers data about their breathing patterns which are then programmed into the mattress, which then inflates and deflates in accordance with those breathing data. Another mechanical pump in the mattress replicates the vibration of the parent’s heartbeat. Another great creation, fabric doll that the mother can sleep with gathers her personal odors, that helps familiarize the infant with parents even if it is not skin-to-skin.
Others in Rawat’s team include Jack Grossman, Dominick Calavano and Michelle Ford, fourth-year undergraduates in biomedical engineering; and Jason Smythe, a biomedical engineering technician; as well as Anirban Dutta, PhD, assistant professor, and Filip Stefanovic, PhD, teaching assistant professor, both in the Department of Biomedical Engineering; and Andrew Olewnik, PhD, adjunct assistant professor and director of experiential learning in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.