A team of researchers has developed a new system to image newborn babies’ chests as they take their first breaths, in a breakthrough which could prevent unnecessary interventions, mitigate potential damage and save lives.

The group of researchers from Australia, Germany, Switzerland, and Canada developed a non-invasive, extremely delicate sensor-belt which they wrapped around the newborn infants.

They recorded over 1,400 breaths taken by 17 infants delivered through an elective caesarean section. The images captured the process of lung aeration, or the switch from having the placenta exchange gases for the infant to inflating and breathing through their own lungs.

“Healthy term babies use remarkably complex methods of adapting to air-breathing at birth,” says clinical neonatologist David Tingay from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) in Australia.

“There is a reason why parents, midwives, and obstetricians are pleased to hear those first life-affirming cries when a baby is born.” (RT)