Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a number of mild sensors that can provide wireless tracking of pregnant mothers during childbirth. Sensors are a substitute for cables and belts that are normally used for monitoring during childbirth and can send data directly to a clinician’s smartphone, opening up the possibility of remote monitoring in rural or low-income settings resources, or even for parts at home during the current pandemic. .
Doctors currently monitor pregnant women during childbirth using a series of heavy belts and cables. These measures include vital signs and data on the frequency of contractions and are important to ensure the safety of both mother and baby. However, devices can slip out of place and tie mothers to hospital beds, making it difficult to get up or move.
“Pregnancy control hasn’t really changed in decades. Compared to some of the technological advances we see in cardiology or imaging, women’s health has lagged behind, ”said Dr. Shuai Xu, a researcher involved in the study through a Northwestern press release.
These new devices are wireless and are much less cumbersome. They include a soft, flexible monitor that attaches to the abdomen, which monitors the baby’s heart contractions and heartbeats. A second monitor, another small device, wraps around a finger to measure oxygen levels and peripheral temperature, while a third postage stamp-sized patch adheres to the chest and controls the temperature of the mother’s heart and nucleus.
Here’s a quick demonstration video of the new sensors in action:
“Removing the cables not only increases the mother’s comfort and freedom of movement, but also leads to more reliable data,” said John Rogers, another researcher involved in the study. “Cables and the forces they impose on the skin’s adherent sensors can be a major source of electrical noise. We can eliminate this noise for improved data on the health of both mother and baby. “
The research team has already deployed monitors to low-resource areas in several countries, including Ghana and India. The devices can transmit their data to a smartphone, which means that they are very suitable for remote monitoring. “The beauty of the technology is that it can work with a wide range of mobile devices without sacrificing accuracy,” Xu said. “You don’t need expensive equipment that needs to be installed by a specialized engineer.”
Study a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Comprehensive pregnancy monitoring with a network of wireless, soft and flexible sensors in low- and high-resource health environments