Portable Infant Insulating and Monitoring Device

Christine Schultz, Christina Hummel, John DesJardins, Melinda Harman, Delphine Dean

Abstract

The goal of this project is to develop a device that is both low cost and safe for infant transportation from rural areas to medical centers while monitoring the infant’s temperature. The materials incorporated in this device include 3M Thinsulate Insulation an Ardiuno UNO sensor. The insulation fabric will be enclosed in a waterproof vinyl fabric that has snap attachments to a cotton fabric that will be the layer in contact with the infant. To test the effectiveness of insulation of the device, I utilized the Arduino UNO temperature sensor. To simulate temperature loss of a newborn infant, a 1.5 L of distilled water is heated to body temperature (37C) and placed in a polyethylene bag. The bag is enclosed in insulating fabric and monitored for two hours with a temperature recorded every five minute. I also tested a control bag with no insulation. Using 3M Thinsulate insulation proved to be effective in reducing temperature loss. The control bag’s temperature dropped about 8.5 C over a 2 hour period, while the bag with four layers of insulation’s temperature only dropped about 2.9 C in 2 hours.

Introduction

Globally, ninety-nine percent of newborn deaths occur in developing countries, with half of those deaths occurring on the first day of life. In Tanzania, up to two-thirds, or 34,000 newborn lives could be saved if the mothers and babies received essential care. The majority of deaths occur in the home setting while not in the presence of a trained medical professional. A solution to this would be transporting a neonatal infant and mother to a medically equipped care center in the first few hours after giving birth. The infant would need to be kept warm and monitored in order to ensure safe transportation, and hopefully decrease the number of neonatal deaths from hypothermia. The goal of this project is to develop a device that is both low cost and safe for infant transportation from rural areas to medical centers while monitoring the infant’s temperature, pulse oximetry, and heart rate.

Materials and Methods

The materials needed to make a swaddle-like insulating and monitoring device include 3M Thinsulate Insulation and Ardiuno UNO sensors. The insulation fabric will be enclosed in a waterproof vinyl fabric that has snap attachments to a cotton fabric that will be the layer in contact with the infant in the device. This layer can be removed to wash and snapped back in place. To test the effectiveness of insulation of the device, we will utilize the Arduino UNO temperature sensor as well as a digital thermometer to monitor the internal temperature. To simulate a newborn infant, 1500 mL of distilled water is heated to body temperature (37C) and placed in a polyethylene bag for testing. The bag is placed in the device and monitored for two hours with a temperature recorded every five minutes. As a negative control, we also tested a control bag with no insulation and using the same testing procedure.

Results

The device design is easy to assemble and effectively wraps and swaddles the infant. For the insulation test, the control (no insulation) dropped 4-6°C per hour which is consistent with heat loss rates infants experience without proper insulating layers. This also indicate that the child would become hypothermic in ~40min. The testing of our insulating wrap showed that it provided marked benefit. The heat loss with four layers was measured to be only~1.5°C per hour. With each layer of insulation added, the device kept the prototype ~0.725°C warmer. The results indicate that the device was able to keep the pseudo- infant warm in comparison to the test with no insulation.

Figure 1. The rate of temperature loss as the number of layers of insulation increases. For every degree Celsius drop in body temperature, the chance of neonate mortality increases by 28%.

Figure 2. The temperature of a low density polyethylene bag filled with 1500 mL distilled water over a 2 hour time period with increasing layers of insulation for each test.

Figure 3. Design of outer layer of swaddle.

Figure 4. Design of inner layer of swaddle.

Conclusions

The future plans for this project include:
-Finalizing a design model that includes a detachable inner layer, a sufficient amount of insulation in the outer layer, and any improvements that can be made that make the device safe and user friendly.
-Adding electronic components to the device that attach to the infant’s foot and monitor temperature, heart rate, and pulse oximetry of the infant using the device, with a warning system in place to alert the caregiver if these vitals reach levels of concern.
-Budgeting this whole project to make sure it is affordable and accessible to rural communities.

References

Manji, K., “Situation analysis of newborn health in Tanzania: Current situation, existing plans and strategic next steps for newborn health.” Dar es Salaam: Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Save the Children; 2009.

Ndeki, SS. Romore, I. Manzi, F., “Addressing Unmet Need for Neonatal Survival in Tanzania: A Synthesis Report.” 2016.

Knobel-Dail, RB., “Role of effective thermoregulation in premature neonates.” Dovepress Journal,Vol. 2014 p. 147-156, 2014.

“Newborn Thermoregulation: Self-Learning Module.” Interprofessional Education and Research Committee of the Champlain Maternal Newborn Regional Program. 2013.

Manji KP, Kisenge R, “Neonatal hypothermia on admission to a special care unit in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania: a cause for concern”, Cent Afr Med, 49(3-4):23-7, 2003.