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Journal of Sensors
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 7450859, 9 pages
Research Article

A Device for Respiratory Monitoring during Nutritive Sucking: Response to Neonatal Breathing Patterns

1Research Unit of Measurements and Biomedical Instrumentation, Center for Integrated Research, Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, Via Álvaro del Portillo 21, 00128 Rome, Italy
2Division of Newborn Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA
3Research Unit of Biomedical Robotics and Biomicrosystems, Center for Integrated Research, Università Campus Bio-Medico di Roma, Via Álvaro del Portillo 21, 00128 Rome, Italy

Received 29 November 2015; Revised 11 February 2016; Accepted 21 February 2016

Academic Editor: Andreas Schütze

Copyright © 2016 Andrea Rosi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The quantitative monitoring of breathing, sucking, and swallowing is required to predict newborns’ neurodevelopmental outcomes. In particular, the coordination of breathing timing with respect to sucking cycle is crucial. In this work, we present the characterization of a low-cost flowmeter designed for noninvasive recording of breathing pattern during bottle feeding. The transducer is designed to be integrated on a commercial feeding bottle also instrumented with a system for sucking monitoring. The flowmeter consists of two transistors (hot bodies) supplied at constant current, which are placed in a duct used to convey the inspiratory and expiratory flow coming from the newborn’s nostrils. The transducer design, its static calibration, and its response time are discussed. Moreover, a custom-made active lung simulator was used to perform a feasibility assessment of the proposed flowmeter for respiratory monitoring of neonatal respiratory patterns. The flowmeter has a discrimination threshold <0.5 L·min−1 and a response time of  ms. The breathing period estimated by the proposed transducer was compared with the one measured by a high performance flowmeter, used as reference: the mean absolute error was <11%. Results highlighted the ability of the device to track respiratory patterns at frequencies typical of neonatal breathing.