Wearable tech could save millions of newborn lives

A new monitoring system that texts care workers when it detects potential health risks to newborn babies is being trialled.

The first hours and days of a baby’s life are among the most fraught with risk, which is exactly why a team of researchers from Huddersfield developed a text-based alert system. It works through soft pads which are attached to a baby’s skin, to monitor their pulse, respiration and activity. If any potential warning signs are detected, a text message is sent to care workers so they can immediately check on the baby.

Dr David Swann, one of the researchers behind this project, noted that more than one million babies die on the first day of life. Furthermore, many of these deaths are the result of wholly treatable or preventable causes, such as infections. These could be detected – and action taken much quicker – with smarter monitoring.

The monitor was developed as a part of Unicef’s ‘Wearables for Good’ campaign, which aims to use the emergence of wearable technologies as a way to boost health and wellbeing around the world.

Explaining the development, Dr Swann told examiner.co.uk: “The period of surveillance captures data at a time when newborns are at most risk – the first minute, the first hour and the first day of life.

“This system technology is capable of monitoring multiple newborns over distances from 300ft to 40 miles. Within health facilities where human resources are stressed, [the system] de-skills and automates clinical assessment to enable safe and efficient working.”