An estimated 8 million newborns annually will require positive pressure ventilation to assist with breathing at birth, commonly known in non-medical circles as resuscitation. This equates to about 5% of all newborns. The two most common devices for delivering ventilation are the self-inflating bag and the T-piece resuscitator. Neither of these two devices provides feedback on the volume of air entering the newborns lungs, despite a growing recognition in scientific literature about the importance of monitoring breath volume. Too much volume of air can lead to trauma of the lungs as they over-inflate. Too little volume can lead to asphyxiation resulting in (extreme cases) brain damage or death.
Each year, approximately one million newborns die of birth asphyxia – meaning they could not clear their lungs of fluid after birth. Evidence gathered from scientific studies suggests that a staggering 30% of these deaths might have been preventable with better newborn resuscitation training. Another million newborns will survive resuscitation but with significant lifelong disabilities such as cerebral palsy.
Currently, there is no viable way of quantitatively training clinicians in the optimal technique for resuscitation or providing them feedback on the quality of manual ventilation in the delivery room. When clinicians are trained, the only indicator of whether they are doing it right comes from looking at the barely perceptible rise and fall of the manikin’s chest. Moreover, in the event of an unexpected resuscitation, which accounts for about 50% of resuscitations, the midwife who initiates resuscitation will have to do so with no feedback about their technique.