Every year, an estimated 15 million babies are born preterm, and the number is increasing. Prematurity is the leading cause of death in children under the age of 5, with almost 1 million children dyeing each year due to complication. As a result, preterm babies need to be constantly monitored. Measuring respiration and heart rate is dependent on electrodes and wires, preventing skin-to-skin contact with parents. And every two to five days nurses have to replace the patches on the baby’s body, which can be both stressful and painful.
The Netherlands-based startup Bambi Medical is determined to change how we monitor preterm babies. They have developed Bambi-Belt, a soft and skin-friendly device, which provide a comfortable and non-intrusive wireless monitoring. The belt is attached around the baby’s chest, and the sensors inside the belt gather signals from the baby’s skin. An amplifier with an algorithm translates the signals into respiration, heart rate and full ECG pattern, and sends it over to a receiving unit that display the information.
Current method of monitoring babies involves an array of wires and electrodes, a part from being painful to remove, also prevent babies from getting enough skin-to-skin contact with parents. This so-called ‘kangarooing’ is extremely important for the infants’ recovery and development. The innovative solution of Bambi Medical strengthen the bond between the parents and their baby, increasing the speed of recovery, aids in the baby’s brain development, and reduces the length of the hospital stay. Ultimately, the startup estimates that the Bambi-Belt can reduce healthcare costs by over $1 billion per year. In addition, the belts could have application outside the neonatal intensive care unit. Bigger children in ICU’s are also dependent on wires and electrodes. Although their skin is not as fragile as in babies, the wires significantly reduce mobility and worsen the hospital stay experience, making it far more scary than necessary.
Bambi Medical has been part of the HighTechXL Accelerator program and recently presented their innovative solution in front of an audience full of investors. The startup has received much attention, and seven out of ten hospitals in Netherlands are saying they want the product. They have also just started a crowdfunding campaign on Leapfunder.com and have signed an agreement with Philips Healthcare, enabling them to show the signal of Bambi-Belt on their monitoring devices.