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Smart mattress to support neonatal babies

Premature babies, which require specialist neonatal care, will be kept at an appropriate temperature to reduce the risk of complications and improve developmental outcomes thanks to new research by Nottingham Trent University.

The smart mattress applies uniform and precisely controlled heating characteristics

A project led by Professor Peter Ford, a product design expert from the School of Art & Design, has developed a smart warming system that provides enough heat via a mattress to ensure babies are kept warm.

Babies born prematurely can lose body heat rapidly and are at an increased risk of complications if their body temperature is not maintained properly. Active warming can avoid the need for more intensive intervention and improve a baby’s early development.

The project – which is in collaboration with Chesterfield-based Rober Ltd - centres on a mattress that applies uniform and precisely controlled heating characteristics.

Professor Ford said: “It’s essential that clinicians can provide reliable thermal management and doing so outside an incubator has significant advantages.

“Very young babies cannot thermoregulate as adults do, so maintaining an appropriate body temperature at such a vulnerable age is essential.

“Babies not kept at the right temperature face increased risk of developing complications, so we were keen to develop something which helps ensure that their chances of normal development are maximised.”

The mattress – made from polyurethane elastomers and foam – has to be precisely controlled to ensure it delivers the correct amount of heat and meets the demanding medical device standards.

A working prototype which has been developed by the university is now expected to undergo testing before being released onto the open market.

Michael Hutson, Managing Director of Rober Ltd, said: “We’re proud to work on this project with Nottingham Trent University and believe that the technology we are developing together will provide vital support to some of the most fragile of lives on the planet.

“By allowing neonatal babies to sleep on smart mattresses which provide the precise temperature for their needs, we will be able to minimise the risk of temperature-related complications.

“We look forward to testing the technology thoroughly with view to providing a product to the open market in due course.”

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Chris Birkle, Public Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 2310, or via email.

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) was named University of the Year 2019 in the Guardian University Awards. The award was based on performance and improvement in the Guardian University Guide, retention of students from low-participation areas and attainment of BME students.

    NTU was also the Times Higher Education University of the Year 2017, and The Times and Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2018. These awards recognise NTU for its high levels of student satisfaction, its quality of teaching, its engagement with employers, and its overall student experience.

    The university has been rated Gold in the Government’s Teaching Excellence Framework – the highest ranking available.

    It is one of the largest UK universities. With nearly 32,000 students and more than 4,000 staff located across four campuses, the University contributes £900m to the UK economy every year. With an international student population of more than 3,000 from around 100 countries, the University prides itself on its global outlook.

    The university is passionate about creating opportunities and its extensive outreach programme is designed to enable NTU to be a vehicle for social mobility. NTU is among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was awarded University of the Year in the UK Social Mobility Awards 2019.

    A total of 82% of its graduates go on to graduate entry employment or graduate entry education or training within six months of leaving. Student satisfaction is high: NTU achieved an 87% satisfaction score in the 2020 National Student Survey, above the sector average of 83%.

Published on 12 January 2021
  • Subject area: Art and design
  • Category: Press office; School of Art & Design