Washington D.C. [U.S.A.]: According to a recent study, tracking oxygen saturation and vital signs can help in identifying vulnerable, more sensitive, pre-term babies.
The Children's National Health System research monitored 27 babies admitted to the Children's Hospital's neonatal intensive care units (NICU).
The research team led by Khodayar Rais-Bahrami separated these subjects into two groups: Low birth weight (LBW) i.e. less than 1.5 kg or 3.3 pounds and moderate birth weight (MBW) i.e. more than 1.5 kg.
Then, they looked for correlations between information extracted from NIRS, such as tissue oxygenation which is specific tissue oxygen saturation, StO2, and the balance between oxygen supply and consumption - fractional tissue oxygen extraction, FTOE - and various vital signs.
Critically ill infants in NICU require constant monitoring of their vital signs. Invasive methods, such as using umbilical arterial catheters to check blood pressure, are the gold standard but pose significant health risks.
Low-risk noninvasive monitoring, such as continuous cardiorespiratory monitors, can measure heart rate, respiratory rate and blood oxygenation. A noninvasive technique called near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) can gauge how well tissues, including the brain, are oxygenated.
While NIRS long has been used to monitor oxygenation in conditions in which blood flow is altered, such as bleeding in the brain, how NIRS values relate to other vital sign measures in NICU babies was unknown.
They found that StO2 increased with blood pressure for LBW babies but decreased with blood pressure for the MBW babies. Brain and body FTOE in LBW babies decreased with blood pressure. In babies with abnormal brain scans, brain StO2 increased with blood pressure and brain FTOE decreased with blood pressure.
Together, the researchers suggested, these measures could give a more concrete picture of critically ill babies' health.