Doug Campbell and his team developed a tiny vest that helps preemies breathe. The pediatrician has found traditional methods of using machines with multiple wires and tubes to be invasive and damaging, so he came up with a new device. With his creation, prematurely born babies may not have to start their lives breathing through a tube.
Many babies who are born sick or prematurely have lung problems. It may either be an issue with the construction or they’re not strong enough to take a breath by themselves. Due to this, these infants need to wear masks or have tubes put in their noses in order for them to survive. Cambell and his team have found these methods invasive, and they can sometimes damage the baby’s nose. Furthermore, moms can’t hold their children to breastfeed or cuddle because of the wires attached to the infant.
The team came up with the NeoVest: a tiny lifejacket that helps babies take a breath. The airtight vest fits around a baby’s belly, and when it pulls away, it creates a vacuum. This action gently pulls on the infant’s belly—allowing them to draw air to their lungs. It also eliminates damage pushing in gas into the lungs can do to a baby. Encouraging them to draw a breath is more natural, and it helps the babies learn how to breathe properly.
While the vest has tremendous potential, it’s still a work in progress, and researchers have found a potential issue. Their lungs are protected from damage, but newborns have very sensitive skin. A tight-fitting vest could potentially injure the skin, especially since a rhythmic pulling is the core of the vest’s function. They will also need to ensure that the vacuum the vest creates isn’t too tight; otherwise, it may suffocate the baby instead of helping them breathe.
Even though there are issues with the initial design, Campbell and his team are dedicated to finding new solutions to preemies’ breathing problems. Having spent so much time in the infants’ intensive care unit, they all have seen the importance of improving the breathing apparatus used on prematurely born infants. With their drive and passion, they are sure to come up with a solid solution to helping babies take their first breaths in this world.