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The neonatal incubator. An example of sensors in action. Neonatal incubator. Getting the right temperature and humidity. Air temperature is monitored and controlled.

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the neonatal incubator

The neonatal incubator

An example of sensors in action

getting the right temperature and humidity
Getting the right temperature and humidity
  • Air temperature is monitored and controlled.
  • Skin temperature is measured through a probe that sits in the skin. The probe is covered with a gel based reflective cover to insulate it so the probe is not affected by lights or blankets.
  • Humidity is monitored and controlled to maintain skin integrity. The skin is like 'jelly' initially, but once out in the open it hardens; the skin is humidified to ease the transition from the intrauterine aquatic environment to the external one.
getting effective breathing
Getting effective breathing
  • The incubator also has an oxygen sensor, to measure the amount of oxygen put into the incubator for babies self ventilating in air.
  • Ventilators also have sensors to detect breaths given by the ventilator and breaths taken by the infant. Breaths taken are picked up by the sensor and the breath is then backed up by the ventilator in order to give the baby a supported breath. 
what about the vital signs
What about the vital signs?
  • Vital signs are monitored using sensors. Oxygen saturations (the percentage of oxygen being carried around by red blood cells) are monitored via a sensor that sits on the skin either side of a foot.
  • Other vital signs include the heart rate which is also measured using probes on the skin. These probes are placed in a 'triangle' set up (to ensure an accurate reading). Two are placed on either side of the chest and one is placed on the low abdomen or upper thigh (this is the earth wire). Each probe has a gel for connectivity, the wires pick up the rhythms and display an output on the monitor. 
how well is the baby growing
How well is the baby growing?
  • Some incubators weigh the baby and monitor its growth. The information is stored in the computer inside the incubator. The scales are integrated into the incubator.
  • Slide 2:
  • Slide 7:
  • The information in Slides 3 to 6 were provided by Susannah Mascall RN, QIS-Neonatal Nursing.
  • This presentation was compiled by John Mascall of The King’s School, Ely in October 2008.