NICU to launch world-first device for our tiniest patients

Pictured: The team behind the genius device – Dr Mark Tracy, Christina Maher. Krista Lowe, Mat Boustred and Matthew Crott.

Westmead Hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) has secured a $249,058 grant to develop a life-saving device that will support newborns requiring resuscitation.

The large grant from the Ainsworth Foundation via the Cerebral Palsy Alliance will help Westmead Hospital develop a device that will precisely monitor the supply of oxygen supplied during a resuscitation, improving outcomes for the baby.

Around three to eight per cent of babies around the world will require resuscitation after birth or if they are extremely premature.

The World Health Organisation estimates 800,000 newborns annually require improved resuscitation to prevent death and improve outcomes for the baby.

Staff specialist Dr Mark Tracy said the device could have a global impact, as it will be designed for use in remote birthing areas as well as large teaching hospitals around the world.

Dr Mark Tracy, Christina Maher. Krista Lowe, Mat Boustred and Matthew Crott.

“Improving the way we resuscitate babies will help reduce mortality and prevent later risks such as cerebral palsy, brain injury, blindness and hearing impairments,” Dr Tracy said.

“The electronic device we are developing will provide real-time feedback to staff during a resuscitation, showing the volume of air being provided to a baby via their mask during a resuscitation effort.”

Dr Mark Tracy will lead a team of Sydney University biomedical engineers who are studying devices and methods of newborn and infant resuscitation.

The device will be developed with technology such as Bluetooth connectivity to staff members’ smartphone and a solar powered battery.

Dt Tracy said data collection capabilities on the device will also enhance staff resuscitation training.

“This type of system has never existed before. A more accurate reading of the ventilation provided to a baby will provide much better outcomes,” Dr Tracy.

“I look forward to leading the research team on this exciting project over the next two years.”