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UB researchers working to create special mattress device for preemies

It would feel like mom for preemies too small to hold
Posted at 1:32 AM, May 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-21 08:27:04-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — A University at Buffalo doctor is working on the creation of a special incubator device for the smallest of new born babies. It allows the preemie to bond with their parents even though they're too tiny to hold.

New mom demonstrates 'skin to skin' contact for her preemie.

This baby boy weighed a little more than two-pounds when he arrived May 1st at a Buffalo hospital. His mother gave us permission to use her Facebook video - to demonstrate how 'skin to skin' contact - also known as "Kangaroo Care" - helps to bond, heal and grow preemies.

But for preemies too tiny and sick to hold and in need of incubation – a new device is now in development by some university at buffalo researchers.

Inside Neonatual unit at Chilldren's Hospital in Buffalo.

Dr. Munmun Rawat is an assistant professor at UB’s Jacobs school of Medicine and neonatologist at Buffalo’s Oishei Children's Hospital. More than two years ago Dr. Rawat gave birth to her son, who was just over two pounds, but she couldn't hold him right away.

“So first three days of life – I couldn't even hold my own baby because of the fear of brain bleed,” remarked Dr. Rawat.

That's when she came up with a concept to create an incubator mattress. Researchers collect sounds of a mom's heartbreak, breathing and voice from a 'necklace' of sensors worn by the mother. The data is inserted into the mattress - serving as the mom's chest.

“And then we would be able to send the heartbeat of the mom there as well as we would be creating the temperature and send the mom's voice – the soothing voice – mom talking to the baby right in the incubator,” explained Dr. Rawat.

A preemie recently born at Children's is already large enough for kangaroo care. Parents can use a special pouch. It’s a small piece of material, designed like a ‘tube top’ called 'Kanga Wear' and it's helping preemie babies at Children’s.

Holding a preemie is the best benefit, but until that can happen, Dr. Rawat hopes once her mattress is developed and perfected, it could provide the next best thing.