Device for premature babies receives funding boost

Assoc Prof Christane Theda
Christane Theda in the research laboratory at the Women's
3 December 2019 | Pregnancy

A consultant neonatologist at the Royal Women’s Hospital has received a $15,000 funding boost to develop a new device that will provide real-time airway pressure monitoring for premature babies.

Associate Professor Christiane Theda, who is developing the device with a team of graduates of the BioDesign Innovation Course at the University of Melbourne, hopes that it will eventually help the hundreds of premature babies that come through the Women’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit every year.

Associate Professor Christiane Theda was thrilled to receive the $15,000 as part of the University of Melbourne’s Graeme Institute for Biomedical Engineering HealthTech Innovation Challenge event last month. 

“Most pre-term babies, and even some term babies, will require respiratory support to breath comfortably. And while the methods we use alleviate respiratory symptoms, we can only estimate the amount of breathing support actually delivered to the babies’ lungs. And it’s important that we get the level of support right,” she says.

“The device will integrate tiny pressure sensors into the nasogastric tubes which most babies on respiratory support will have placed as part of their care. It measures the pressure low in the throat, near the lungs, and provides valuable information to the medical team.

“The funding will allow us to acquire more pressure sensors so we can perform the relevant experiments to develop this device further. Hopefully it will soon be optimising the breathing of babies in the Women’s NICU and beyond!”