Monitoring device could prevent sudden unexpected infant death syndrome

Sudden unexpected infant death syndrome (SUIDS) occurs when a baby, under the age of one, passes away when there was no prior cause for concern. It is one of the least understood health-crisis phenomena of our day, and yet it is the leading cause of death for babies between the ages of one month to one year.

This is one of the reasons that Dr. Stuart Corr, a medical engineer and director of the Interdisciplinary Surgical Technology and Innovation Center (INSTINCT) at Baylor College of Medicine, is developing “Lil HalosTM,” a non-invasive monitoring device to log breathing and movement patterns in infants and alert healthcare providers of life-threatening events to avoid SUIDS.

“As a father of two kids, I realized the need for a monitoring device that uses technology in an active manner: that is, it alerts parents and nurses (in the setting of an NICU, for example) when there is a problem rather than parents being the ‘active’ element in the monitoring,” Corr said.

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Often, SUIDS is thought to be linked to unsafe sleeping environments, but there are several other factors that are currently being researched. According to the CDC, SUIDS affects 3,500 babies annually in the United States. Since these deaths commonly occur during sleep, there is often no witness.

Monitoring devices play an important role in infant safety, but the science behind preventing SUIDS is still underdeveloped. To date, the FDA has not cleared or approved a baby product to prevent or reduce the risk of SUIDS.

Corr aims to have Lil HalosTM set a new paradigm. The device recently received funding from the Southwest Pediatric Device Consortium, which supports pediatric device innovators intending to address the shortage of new medical devices for children.

The consortium includes scientific, clinical, investment, regulatory, engineering, and academic partners in the Texas Medical Center, the greater Houston area, and the Southwestern United States.

“In my own experience, it has been an interesting, sometimes arduous task, to find the latest, start-of-the art technologies that deal with the full range of child and parental needs.”

The Lil HalosTM system is an example of the growing portfolio of products coming out of INSTINCT, which aims to incubate surgical medtech solutions. Projects include micro-suturing devices, disposable laparoscopic systems, blood perfusion imaging for evaluating peripheral vascular disease, liver support systems, and artificial intelligence for enhanced liver transplant outcomes.

“We are initiating a customer discovery process to truly make Lil Halos into the device that it needs to be: user friendly, affordable, and most importantly, committed to the cause of preventing SUIDS.”

-By Debbie Sugarbaker, editor in the Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine

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