Vanderbilt Medical Students Study Effects Of Vibration On Infant Health

Transporting critically sick infants to Vanderbilt University Medical Center from community hospitals is a feat made possible by the Newborn Emergency Transport Program's state-of-the-art vehicles.

But little was known about whether continuous vibrations inside the "Angel" and "Cherub" transport ambulances affect the tiny, delicate cargo inside.

Two second-year Vanderbilt University School of Medicine students looked into the issue last year in their Introduction to Biomedical Research class. The students, Gargi Gajendragadkar and Julie Boyd, received a Young Investigator Award in November from the National Perinatal Association for their work.

They hope to soon have their work published as other investigators continue the research that the budding researchers began last year.

The study compared the abilities of a standard foam mattress and a gel mattress in different combinations to lessen the vibration during routine transport conditions. The research expanded on prior work that showed the infants were exposed to prolonged, low frequency, high-amplitude vibration during transport.

It is not known how this continuous vibration affects infants, but studies done with adults have shown possibly harmful swings in temperature and heart rate.

The research compared four combinations of mattresses in the incubator: no mattress, foam, gel and a foam/gel combination. The results of the study were surprising.

"The idea of the mattress is to make the infant more comfortable," said Dr. Jayant P. Shenai, professor of Pediatrics and medical director of the Newborn Emergency Transport Program.

"Previously it was thought that the gel mattress reduced the vibrations more. What was most surprising for us to find was that none of the mattresses dampened any of the vibrations. They actually accentuated the vibrations," Shenai said. Of all the combinations, however, the gel mattress and the gel/foam combination accentuated the vibrations the least

Contact: Matt Scanlan
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

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