KMC Apnea Alert

Northwestern University, 2008 - $20,000

A popular alternative to incubator care for premature infants in developing areas is kangaroo mother care (KMC), a technique in which the infant if kept in a frog-like position on the caregiver’s chest at all times, allowing the caregiver to monitor the infant. While KMC is accepted as an alternative to incubator care by the World Health Organization, premature infants remain at risk for apnea while the caregiver is sleeping and therefore unable to detect an apnea episode. Most apnea detectors do not work with the KMC system.

This E-Team is developing a low-cost, KMC-compatible apnea detection system. The team formed in response to a request from the Karl Bremer Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa for a KMC-compatible apnea monitor and is based on previous coursework over the past two semesters. The device detects apnea by monitoring the typical adbonimal movements of a premature infant while breathing. If there is no breathing for a stretch of time, indicating an apnea episode, the device sets off an alarm. The device is attached to the abdomen using a gentle, double-sided hydrogel adhesive pad that is disposable and replaceable.