Sleep Well Baby
Sleep Well Baby Improves the Sleep of Preterm Infants and Maximizes Brain Development
Together with medical specialists from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and data scientists from the UMCU, the Finaps team has developed a predictive algorithm that helps to determine whether an infant is asleep or awake. The goal: maximize the amount of sleep that a preterm infant gets in a day. The project “Sleep Well Baby” was a great success and won the National Dutch Hacking Health Award for Best Innovation. This has left the door open for future work in this important area.
UMC Utrecht is only just starting to wake up the critical importance of sleep for an infant’s mental and physical development. Finding ways to optimize brain development is one of the most important goals of Neonatology. For preterm infants, who are at the highest risk of negative developmental outcome, sleep is of critical importance. Despite this knowledge, infants that are admitted to the NICU do not sleep enough. This is because highly specialized hospital wards like the NICU are hectic places, with noisy machines and busy care-workers constantly operating. This can easily disrupt an infant’s natural sleep rhythm. In addition to this, infants are often woken up when it’s time for care or when a medical procedure is required. Finding ways to minimize sleep disturbance is therefore of critical importance at the NICU.
Routine monitoring data, such as heart and respiration rate, allow healthcare-workers to determine whether a baby is asleep or awake. By coupling this data to sleeping scores, we were able to develop a predictive algorithm that automates the process of detecting an infant’s sleep state.
Once sleep state is recognized, a medical specialist can schedule medical procedures and feeding times around an infant’s natural sleep rhythm. Sleep Well Baby was recognized as the best innovation prototype at Dutch Hacking Health, helping contribute positive change to some of the real-world issues that the Dutch healthcare industry currently faces. This project represents the start of an exciting new avenue of innovation that, not only has practical utility in the everyday functioning of a hospital but is also a great example of how the technology and healthcare industries can come together to improve healthcare.