Using Light to Assess Babies' Lungs

Using Light to Assess Babies' Lungs

When the light of a parent’s life is born prematurely, medical attention and monitoring may be required. Often in these cases, the baby’s lungs have not fully developed and scientists need to monitor the infants to ensure they are processing oxygen properly. These lung examinations, however, have some limitations. They hinge on using x-rays, exposing the young, fragile baby to radiation. They also irritate the babies and cannot be performed too frequently. Now, a new study suggests that light could be a safer, less invasive test method.

Previous research utilizing light technology has been used to measure the amount of oxygen in blood cells. Building upon this research, scientists evaluated light at varying wavelengths and tested 32 full-term babies using different neuroimaging technologies. Using beams of light at a wavelength of precisely 760.445 nanometers, they discovered, allowed for the measurement of oxygen levels in the lungs. This enabled doctors to tell if a baby is having trouble breathing and can help prevent possible injuries when inflating collapsed areas of the lung.

Currently, this technology needs to be held against the baby’s chest while someone else sits at a computer and takes note of the results. The researchers hope, however, to streamline the process. Authors of the study wrote, "We hope that the measurements will be possible to perform automatically, by using small transmitters attached to the baby's chest…This would enable measuring the lung function continuously, in a way that is completely safe and that doesn't bother the child."

Scientists looking to research more about this or doctors hoping to utilize the technology need to ensure that their light sources are emitting energy at the proper wavelength. Konica Minolta Sensing has a number of products that can measure light. The CS-2000 and CS-2000A Spectroradiometers can both evaluate extremely small areas and a wide range of wavelengths. Make sure your light is exactly 760.445 nanometers with Konica Minolta Sensing.

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