USM researchers study ambulance impact on preterm infants

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - An ambulance is often known as a cocoon of safety, but for premature infants that may not be the case. Southern Miss and Forest General Hospital paired up to find a solution.

When infants with very low birth weight are transported it is important that they do not experience physical stress due to noise and movement.

"We work the best to give the baby the quietest and smoothest ride," said Judy Prehn, an NICU developmental specialist.

The norm is to put premature babies in the same transport incubator as other babies with no special treatment.

"Our study shows that the weight does matter. We would usually use this on a smaller baby," said Kevin Gregory, a registered NICU nurse.

Devices were placed inside the incubator to measure vibrations, sound, and motion during transport in various conditions.

"On a regular highway around town even had some assistant at the local Bobby Chain airport and went up and down the runway so we could control the speed, surface, and other variables for measurement," Said CG Marx, a USM assistant professor at the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences.

The team also found which mattress and materials provided the smoothest ride.

"These babies come out and they are not supposed to be here. They are supposed to be still inside mom, you know, and growing and any time they come out they are more susceptible to injuries to their brain to their body. Stuff like that so anything we can do to prevent that. That's what we are trying to do," said Jerry Styron, a respiratory therapist.

According to all involved, this is a big step towards making premature infants more comfortable, and doctors are already looking to make the next step.