Infant Heart Monitor

Testing the first Infant Heart Monitor in Ghana
Testing the first Infant Heart Monitor in Ghana

Infant Heart Monitor

Background:
The difficulty in detecting a baby’s pulse through traditional inexpensive means is exacerbated in situations where babies are born with a medical issue requiring attention. In some instances, infants born depressed to the point of unresponsiveness are diagnosed as stillborn and are discarded. A device to accurately pick up the electrical signal associated with a heartbeat and annunciate its rate could save the lives of these babies. The need for an inexpensive infant heart rate monitor was originally presented to IBV by Dr. Wally Carlo, MD at the University of Alabama in Birmingham after his travels to Africa. Although modern hospitals might have equipment to accurately monitor the heart rate of newborns, these devices are not affordable to all birthing facilities around the world.

Current Progress:
In the first three semesters the team developed a working first generation prototype where a LED flashed with every heartbeat. Several versions of this device were tested clinically in Ghana, Africa during the summer of 2008. In Ghana, feedback from physicians and midwives gave students new ideas and revealed several weaknesses that needed to be improved in the second generation prototype, which is currently being developed.

Future Direction:
The team is aiming to complete the second generation prototype in the Spring 2009 semester so that it can be tested at the local hospital, Portage Health Systems this school year. Following successful trials, the device will be manufactured to meet the demand of specific markets. For example, higher entry models will have additional features that basic models will not.

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