New sensors monitor sick babies without wires blocking hugs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Peek into any U.S. hospital’s baby ICU, and you’ll see sick and premature newborns covered in wired monitors that tear at fragile skin and make it hard for parents to cuddle their kids.

Now researchers at Northwestern University have created skin-like wireless sensors that promise to cut those cords.

They’re made of ultrathin silicone that clings gently to skin without strong adhesives, embedded with miniature electronics. A transmitter under the bed charges them wirelessly and beams measurements to computers.

Pilot tests showed they track heart rate and other vital signs as accurately as wired versions.

Next, researchers will study the inexpensive devices in developing countries that can’t afford today’s standard monitoring. First up is a pilot test in Zambia in April.

The research was published Thursday in the journal Science.

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