Could This Circuit Board Prevent 2,000 Infant Deaths Per Year?

Wed, 01/16/2013 - 4:22pm
Kasey Panetta, Associate Editor, ECN

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death among infants between the ages of one month to one year, according to the Center for Disease Control. The most recent statistics put the number of deaths at about 2,226 per year, nearly seven infants per day.

In hopes of lowering the number of infants who succumb to SIDS, the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM, has created a romper suit that will alert parents if their child stops breathing.

Researchers designed  a stretchable printed circuit board that can be seamlessly integrated into baby clothing. The polyurethane circuit board contains sensors that track the chest and stomach to monitor breathing. As an added bonus, the researchers used materials and manufacturing techniques that are particularly cost effective, so if the suit goes to market it won’t be overly expensive.Because SIDS can be caused by a number of things, including suffocation, researchers are hopeful this will lower the number of infant deaths even if it doesn't completely eliminate it from the population.


The main technology here is the flexible circuit board—the sensors were commercially available—so it has a pretty wide range of applications including checking kidney function. As it stands, checking kidneys involves injecting the patient with a substance the kidney can breakdown and taking blood samples every 30 minutes for three hours to track how the kidneys break down the subtance. Using a flexible circuit board as a basis, the doctors would inject the patient with an organic colorant. A blue LED will cause the substance to glow, which will be detected by the sensors in the plaster. If the kidney is healthy, and the organic compound is broken down, the plaster will become less luminous. Not only is it more accurate, it’s up to 60 percent less expensive than the traditional technique, according to the research center.

Other uses include more effective pressure bandages with great potential for more improving other medical processes.



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