B.C. breakthrough helps calm preemies too fragile to be held

UBC researchers have developed a device that simulates skin-to-skin contact for babies who are too fragile to be held by their mothers, reports CTV News.

Skin-to-skin contact helps stabilize the babies’ vital signs, maintain body temperature and promotes deeper sleep, stimulating babies’ brain and neurological development, the researchers said.

The solution, called the Calmer, was developed by a team of engineers from UBC and BCIT. It’s a robotic platform inside an incubator, which rises and falls like a mother’s chest.

“We found that babies who had exposure to Calmer were much more settled when they had blood collection, and we looked at their heart rate and how that changed,” said Dr. Liisa Holsti, a Canada Research Chair and an associate professor in UBC’s occupational science department.