Foothills hospital team develops portable newborn resuscitation station

In a North American first, medical staff at Calgary's Foothills hospital have developed a device that can resuscitate newborns while their umbilical cords are still attached.

Device allows doctors to keep newborn's umbilical cord attached during emergencies

A respiratory therapist demonstrates the Integrated Neonatal Support with Placental Transfusion and Resuscitation (INSPIRE). (Scott Dippel/CBC)

In a North American first, medical staff at Calgary's Foothills hospital have developed a device that can resuscitate newborns while their umbilical cords are still attached.

The portable station called Inspire — Integrated Neonatal Support with Placental Transfusion and Resuscitation — can be placed right beside the mother in the delivery room.

Maintaining the connection to the umbilical cord for one to three minutes after birth reduces the risk of bleeding in the baby's brain by 50 per cent, research has shown.

But, infants born before 32 weeks often need urgent care, which until now required immediate clamping of the umbilical cord so they could be transported to a resuscitation station.

"It allows us to be more inclusive in the process of allowing a wider range of babies to actually benefit from delayed cord clamping," said Dr. Sumesh Thomas.

"Now there isn't an urgency to detach a baby who is non-vigorous because we can actually do resuscitative care on the placenta circulation," said Thomas, who helped develop the device.

The machine has been used six times since last May to help resuscitate pre-term babies and offer delayed cord clamping, Alberta Health Services (AHS) said in a release.

The battery-powered device has a scale, oxygen tanks, resuscitation equipment and blood oxygen monitors.

Thomas and his co-inventor, neonatal nurse practitioner Leigh Irvine, are developing a large-scale study to further evaluate the benefits of the Inspire device.

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