Title:
Neonatal Swaddler
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A neonatal swaddler (60) is formed from flexible, transparent, single-ply sheet plastics material. The material is folded along a pair of generally-parallel longitudinal fold-lines (26,34) to form (i) a generally-rectangular back-panel (62) of the swaddler between the lines, (ii) a generally-rectangular right front-panel (64R) beyond one of the fold-lines (26) and (iii) a generally-rectangular left front-panel (64L) beyond the other fold-line (34). Each front-panel is connected to the back-panel along a respective transverse weld line (40R,40L) at one end of the swaddler. The weld-lines are spaced apart so that when a newborn baby is placed between the front-panels and the rear-panel, the baby's neck can project from the swaddler between the connection-lines. When the swaddler is flat, the right and left front-panels overlap each other over at least 20% of the width of the back-panel between the fold lines, the overlap being between about 60% and 100% of the spacing between the connection-lines. Due to the amount of overlap, there is no need to provide any means for positively and releasably attaching the front panels to each other part way along the overlap. The lack of such attaching means simplifies manufacture and use of the swaddler and does not obscure the view of the baby through the front panels.



Inventors:
Pearson, Christine Freya (Romsey, GB)
Yonge, William (Southampton, GB)
Application Number:
12/242291
Publication Date:
06/11/2009
Filing Date:
09/30/2008
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
156/227
International Classes:
A41B13/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HOEY, ALISSA L
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Nguyen & Tarbet (Irvine, CA, US)
Claims:
1. A neonatal swaddler (60) formed from flexible sheet plastics material which is folded along a pair of generally-parallel longitudinal fold-lines (26,34) to form a generally-rectangular back-panel (62) of the swaddler between the lines, a generally-rectangular right front-panel (64R) beyond one of the fold-lines (26) and a generally-rectangular left front-panel (64L) beyond the other fold-line (34) such that when the swaddler is flat the right and left front-panels overlap each other over at least 20% of the width of the back-panel between the fold lines, each front-panel being connected to the back-panel along a respective transverse connection-line (40R,40L) at one end of the swaddler, the connection-lines being spaced apart so that when a newborn baby is placed between the front-panels and the rear-panel, the baby's neck can project from the swaddler between the connection-lines at said one end of the swaddler.

2. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 1, wherein each of the front panels is substantially transparent.

3. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 1, wherein the plastics material is single-ply.

4. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 1, wherein the swaddler is devoid of any means for positively attaching the front panels to each other part way along the overlap.

5. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 1, wherein the front-panels are connected to the back-panel along a common transverse connection-line at the opposite end of the swaddler.

6. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 1, wherein a pair of side perforation-lines extend between the ends of the swaddler each spaced from a respective one of the fold-lines.

7. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 6, wherein along each side perforation-line, the swaddler is perforated through the back-panel and the respective front-panel.

8. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 1, wherein a central perforation-line extends between the ends of the swaddler,

9. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 8, wherein along the central perforation-line, the swaddler is perforated through the back-panel but not through the front-panels.

10. A neonatal swaddler (60) formed from flexible sheet plastics material which is folded along a pair of generally-parallel longitudinal fold-lines (26,34) to form a generally-rectangular back-panel (62) of the swaddler between the lines, a generally-rectangular right front-panel (64R) beyond one of the fold-lines (26) and a generally-rectangular left front-panel (64L) beyond the other fold-line (34) such that when the swaddler is flat the right and left front-panels overlap each other, each front-panel being connected to the back-panel along a respective transverse connection-line (40R,40L) at one end of the swaddler, the connection-lines being spaced apart so that when a newborn baby is placed between the front-panels and the rear-panel, the baby's neck can project from the swaddler between the connection-lines at said one end of the swaddler, the overlap of the right and left front-panels, when the swaddler is flat, being between about 60% and 100% of the spacing between the connection-lines.

11. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 10, wherein each of the front panels is substantially transparent.

12. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 10, wherein the plastics material is single-ply.

13. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 10, wherein the swaddler is devoid of any means for positively attaching the front panels to each other part way along the overlap.

14. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 10, wherein the front-panels are connected to the back-panel along a common transverse connection-line at the opposite end of the swaddler.

15. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 10, wherein a pair of side perforation-lines extend between the ends of the swaddler each spaced from a respective one of the fold-lines.

16. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 15, wherein along each side perforation-line, the swaddler is perforated through the back-panel and the respective front-panel.

17. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 10, wherein a central perforation-line extends between the ends of the swaddler.

18. A neonatal swaddler as claimed in claim 17, wherein along the central perforation-line, the swaddler is perforated through the back-panel but not through the front-panels.

19. A method of manufacture of a neonatal swaddler, comprising the steps of: folding flexible sheet plastics material along a pair of generally-parallel longitudinal fold-lines to form a generally-rectangular back-panel of the swaddler between the lines, a generally-rectangular right front-panel beyond one of the fold-lines and a generally-rectangular left front-panel beyond the other fold-line; and connecting each front-panel to the back-panel along a respective transverse connection-line at one end of the swaddler, the connection-lines being spaced apart so that when a newborn baby is placed between the front-panels and the rear-panel, the baby's neck can project from the swaddler between the connection-lines at said one end of the swaddler; wherein the sheet plastics material is folded and connected such that, when the swaddler is laid flat, the right and left front-panels overlap each other over at least 20% of the width of the back-panel between the fold lines, and/or the overlap of the right and left front-panels is between about 60% and 100% of the spacing between the connection-lines.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to a neonatal swaddler and method of manufacture thereof.

Immediately before a baby is born, it is wet and its temperature throughout is generally equal to its mother's core temperature, i.e. blood heat, about 37° C. Immediately after birth, the baby is subjected to the cooling effect of its new, lower temperature surroundings, for example at a room temperature of 20° C., by convection, conduction and radiation. Also, if the baby is left naked and wet, it is subjected to a significant cooling effect as its skin dries due to the latent heat of evaporation. The cooling effects of convection and evaporation are accentuated if the baby is in a draught. A newborn baby's temperature regulation system may be underdeveloped, especially if it is born prematurely. Cold stress can harm a newborn baby, in that energy requirements can cause low blood sugar, acidosis and reduced production of lung surfactant, leading to poor adaptation from intra-uterine to extra-uterine life and a worse long-term developmental outcome especially, but not solely, for premature babies. It is therefore important to keep the baby warm.

In a hospital, once a premature baby has been delivered, it is typically immediately transferred to a resuscitaire where it is stabilised for a period of time. The baby may then be transferred to a neonatal unit on the resuscitaire or in a transport incubator, where the baby is then placed into a permanent incubator. It is critical to keep the baby warm over the period of time from delivery until the baby has been placed in the permanent incubator and the temperatures of the incubator and baby have stabilised. Other times when a new born baby may be exposed to the cold are if it is being transferred to hospital, for example after a home birth, or if it is being transferred between different hospitals or neonatal units.

2. Description of the Prior Art

To assist in maintaining a newborn baby's body temperature, a neonatal wrap has been proposed in patent document U.S. Pat. No. 3,739,399. That wrap comprises a specially-shaped sheet of plastics bubble-wrap material that has slits cut in it so that it has a central area from which a number of flaps extend. In use, as soon as possible after birth the baby is placed supine on the central area of the sheet, and the flaps are then folded over the baby and held in place by Velcro® fasteners. Once all of the flaps have been folded over and attached, the wrap is intended to cocoon the baby's torso and limbs and forms a hood for the baby's head. The baby can be kept in the neonatal wrap while it is being taken to an incubator, and for its first few hours in the incubator while the baby's temperature regulating system stabilises. However, a problem with the neonatal wrap of U.S. Pat. No. 3,739,399 is that, if a wrap that is sized to accommodate a large baby is instead used for a relatively small baby, significant gaps are likely to be formed between adjacent flaps so that the baby is not so well protected as might be. A farther problem with that wrap is that, being made from bubble-wrap material, it does obscure the baby to some extent, which is a major disadvantage. A further disadvantage of that wrap is that a large number of fasteners needs to be done up in order to cocoon the baby in the wrap, and need to be undone when the wrap is no longer required.

A swaddler has also been proposed in patent document U.S. Pat. No. 3,636,566. That swaddler comprises an envelope of plastics bubble-wrap material that has an open end through which a newborn baby's torso and limbs can be inserted into the envelope, and a flap extending from the open end of the envelope so that the flap forms, or can be formed into, a hood for the baby's head. Like the wrap of U.S. Pat. No. 3,739,399, a major problem with the swaddler of U.S. Pat. No. 3,636,566 is that, being made from bubble-wrap material, it obscures the baby to some extent. It is said in U.S. Pat. No. 3,636,566 that the material of the swaddler is rupturable and relatively easily tom to enable ready access to any portion of the baby's body. However, it should be noted that a sheet of bubble wrap is formed by two layers, each of which must be sufficiently strong to maintain its integrity, but that both layers would need to be tom in order to penetrate the sheet. It is therefore expected that if the material is made sufficiently strong to maintain its integrity, it would be difficult to tear it and that there would be a risk of hurting the baby in the process.

Another swaddler is known from patent document U.S. Pat. No. 4,083,064. That swaddler is generally of the form of a transparent shirt having sleeves with closed ends. The front of the shirt has left and right panels which overlap slightly (over about 8% of the width body part of the shirt) and can be held together by sticky tape. A problem with using sticky tape is that is has an uncanny knack of sticking to places where it is not intended and of not sticking to places where it is intended for example because of wetness. A further disadvantage is that the sticky tape obscures the transparency of the front panels. The bottom of the shirt can also be closed with sticky tape. Apart from the front opening between the left and right front panels, the swaddler of U.S. Pat. No. 4,083,064 is not specially adapted to provide access to, for example, the baby's arms. However, the document does mention that the material of the shirt arms can be slit.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

An aim of the present invention, or at least of specific embodiments of it, is to provide an improved neonatal wrap or swaddler that provides sufficient protection to the newborn baby, that can accommodate babies of different sizes satisfactorily, that is easy to fit to the baby, that enables ready access to the baby's umbilical stump and other parts of the baby's body, that enables the baby's body to be seen clearly, and that is relatively easy and inexpensive to manufacture.

First and second aspects of the present invention relate to a neonatal swaddler formed from flexible sheet plastics material which is preferably transparent and single-ply. The material is folded along a pair of generally-parallel longitudinal fold-lines to form (i) a generally-rectangular back-panel of the swaddler between the lines, (ii) a generally-rectangular right front-panel beyond one of the fold-lines and (iii) a generally-rectangular left front-panel beyond the other fold-line. Each front-panel is connected to the back-panel along a respective transverse connection-line (such as a weld line) at one end of the swaddler The connection-lines are spaced apart so that when a newborn baby is placed between the front-panels and the rear-panel, the baby's neck can project from the swaddler between the connection-lines at said one end of the swaddler.

Third and fourth aspects of the invention relate to a method of manufacture of a neonatal swaddler The method involves folding flexible sheet plastics material along a pair of generally-parallel longitudinal fold-lines to form a generally-rectangular back-panel of the swaddler between the lines, a generally-rectangular right front-panel beyond one of the fold-lines and a generally-rectangular left front-panel beyond the other fold-line. The method furthermore involves connecting each front-panel to the back-panel (for example by welding) along a respective transverse connection-line at one end of the swaddler, the connection-lines being spaced apart so that when a newborn baby is placed between the front-panels and the rear-panel, the baby's neck can project from the swaddler between the connection-lines at said one end of the swaddler

In accordance with the first and third aspects of the present invention, when the swaddler is flat, the right and left front-panels overlap each other over at least 20% (and preferably over about 30%) of the width of the back-panel between the fold lines

In accordance with the second and fourth aspects of the invention, the overlap of the right and left front-panels, when the swaddler is flat, being between about 60% and 100% (and preferably between about 90% and 100%) of the spacing between the connection-lines.

Due to the amount of overlap, there is no need to provide any means for positively and releasably attaching the front panels to each other part way along the overlap, and preferably the swaddler is devoid of any such means. The lack of such attaching means simplifies manufacture and use of the swaddler and does not obscure the view of the baby through the front panels.

The front-panels are preferably connected to the back-panel along a common transverse connection-line (such as a weld line) at the opposite end of the swaddler. This assists in keeping the swaddler in shape and, as will be appreciated from the following detailed description of the drawings, need not require any additional manufacturing process steps.

A pair of side perforation-lines preferably extend between the ends of the swaddler each spaced from a respective one of the fold-lines. In use, the swaddler material can readily be torn along part of one of the perforation lines, without needing any cutting implement, in order to obtain access to the baby's arms or legs. Along each side perforation-line, the swaddler is preferably perforated through the back-panel and the respective front-panel.

A central perforation-line preferably extends between the ends of the swaddler. When the baby no longer has any use for the swaddler, the swaddler material can readily be torn along the central perforation line, without needing any cutting implement, in order to facilitate removal of the baby from the swaddler. Along the central perforation-line, the swaddler is preferably perforated through the back-panel but not through the front-panels so as not to weaken the front panels unnecessarily.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a schematic illustration of a machine for manufacturing one embodiment of neonatal swaddler;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of a swaddler produced by the machine of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a slice view of the swaddler, taken along the section line 3-3 in FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is similar to FIG. 2, but showing the front panels folded out;

FIG. 5 is similar to FIG. 2, but showing an opening having been formed in one of the side perforation lines;

FIG. 6 is similar to FIG. 2, but showing the swaddler having been torn along the majority of its central perforation line; and

FIG. 7 is a schematic illustration of a modified machine for manufacturing another embodiment of the neonatal swaddler.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, a machine 10 has a web feeding station 12 which feeds a web 14 of optically-clear polyethylene having a thickness of 0.075 mm and a width A of about 900 mm to a printing station 16. The printing station 16 prints a series of life-size images 18 of a headless new-born baby on the web 14, the images 18 having a pitch B of about 450 mm. Next, a perforating station 20 forms a longitudinal line 22 of perforations through the web 14, the perforations for example being slits each having a length of about 2.5 mm and a pitch of 3 mm. Next, a first folding and creasing station 24 folds and creases the web 14 along a longitudinal line 26 spaced a distance C of about 255 mm from one edge of the web 14 so that the web has a first narrower layer 28 partly overlying a wider layer 30. Next, a second folding and creasing station 32 folds and creases the wider layer 30 of the web 14 along a longitudinal line 34 spaced a distance D of about 255 mm from the opposite edge of the web 14 so that the web has a second narrower layer 36 partly overlying the wider layer 30 and partly overlying the first narrower layer 28. It will be appreciated that the overall width E of the folded web 14 is given by E=A−C−D, i.e. about 390 mm, and that the overlap F of the narrower layers 28,36 is given by F=C+D−E, or about 120 mm. Next, a welding station 38 produces a series of transverse welds 40 across the folded web 14 at the pitch B of about 450 mm so that each weld 40 is generally aligned with the neck of a respective one of the baby images 18. Each weld 40 may have a width G of about 8 mm. Each weld 40 connects together the three layers 28,30,36 in the region of the overlap of the narrower layers 28,36, and connects together the two layers 28,30 and 30,36 beyond the overlapping region. Next, a perforating station 42 forms a pair of longitudinal lines 44 of perforations through the folded web 14, each line 44 of perforations being spaced by a distance H of about 90 mm from a respective edge of the folded web 14. The perforations pass through both layers of the folded web 14 and again may be, for example, slits each having a length of about 2.5 mm and a pitch of 3 mm. Then, a cutting station 46:

  • (a) transversely cuts the folded web 12 into pieces 48 along the centre of each weld 40 so that each piece 48 is still welded at each end;
  • (b) cuts a small piece 50 away from the centre of the welded end of each larger piece 48 that is adjacent the respective baby image 18 so that:
    • (i) that end then has two weld portions 40L,40R spaced apart by a distance J of about 130 mm; and
    • (ii) a semicircular cutaway 52 having a radius K of about 24 mm is produced in the neck region of the respective baby image 18; and
  • (c) cuts five equiangularly spaced radial slits 54 each having a length L of about 15 mm around the cutaway.
    Then, a packing station 56 packs the larger pieces 48 into boxes 58.

The pieces 48 produced by the machine 10 each constitute a neonatal swaddler 60 as shown in FIGS. 2 to 6. The wider layer 30 of the web 14 provides a rear panel 62 of the swaddler having a length B of about 450 mm and width E of about 390 mm, with the central longitudinal line 22 of perforations and the baby image 18 printed on it. The narrower layers 28,36 of the web 14 provide right and left front panels 64R,64L of the swaddler 60 which overlap by a distance F of about 120 mm, which is about 31% of the width E of the swaddler 60. The rear panel 62 and right front panel 64R both have lines 44 of perforations spaced a distance H of about 90 mm from the right edge of the swaddler 60, and the rear panel 62 and right left panel 64L both have lines 44 of perforations spaced a distance H of about 90 mm from the left edge of the swaddler 60. The rear and front panels 62,64R,64L are welded to each other all along the bottom edge of the swaddler 60 by the remaining portion 40B of the original weld 40. The rear and front right panels 62,64R are welded to each other by the weld portion 40R along the top edge of the swaddler 60 over a length M=½(E−J) of about 130 mm from the right edge of the swaddler 60. Similarly, the rear and front left panels 62,64L are welded to each other by the weld portion 40L along the top edge of the swaddler 60 over a length M of about 130 mm from the left edge of the swaddler 60. The top edge of the swaddler 60 is not welded centrally over a length J of about 130 mm, so as to provide an opening 66 with the central semicircular cutaway 52 of radius K of about 24 mm and the radial slits 54. The overlap F (120 mm) of the right and left front panels 64R,64L is slightly smaller than (about 92% of) the length J (130 mm) of the opening, so that the front right panel 64R stops short of the left weld portion 40L and the front left panel 64L stops short of the right weld portion 40R.

In use, the swaddler 60 is placed on a horizontal surface, and a new-born baby is placed in the swaddler 60 so that the baby lies face-up generally over the image 18 on the rear panel 62 and beneath the front panels 64R,64L, with the baby's head and neck projecting from the opening 66. The cutaway 52 and slits 54 prevent the material of the swaddler 60 digging into the baby's neck and allow the swaddler to conform more readily to the shape of the baby in the neck region so as to prevent significant draughts into or out of the swaddler in that region. However, the material of the swaddler 60 is sufficiently stiff that, in the event that part of the swaddler covers the baby's nose, it will not readily bend sufficiently to seal over the baby's nostrils. Nevertheless, the material of the swaddler 60 is sufficiently flexible, and the front panels 64R,64L overlap sufficiently, that the front panels 64R,64L conform to the general shape of the baby and therefore to each other so that they prevent significant draughts into or out of the swaddler 60 down the front of the swaddler 60. At least the front panels 64R,64L of the swaddler 60 are sufficiently optically-clear, even where the front panels 64R,64L overlap, that the colour and texture of the baby's skin is not obscured. In the event that a procedure needs to be carried out on the baby's torso (for example on the umbilical stump so as to insert a large line or cannula into the umbilical artery or vein via the stump to administer fluids, blood or drugs, to monitor blood pressure or central venous pressure, or to take blood samples), the front panels 64R,64L can be folded open to provide access, as shown in FIG. 4, and then folded back immediately after the procedure has been completed, with any line that remains attached to the baby being brought out sideways to the right between the overlap of the front panels 64R,64L. In the event that a procedure needs to be carried out on the baby's arm or foot (for example inserting or using an intravenous cannula), the rear panel 62 or appropriate front panel 64R,64L can be readily torn partly along one of the perforation lines 44 to form an opening 67 providing access, as shown in FIG. 5. Immediately after the procedure has been completed, the material of the swaddler 60 can be smoothed down to prevent significant draughts. If a line is to remain attached to the baby, it is preferably brought out sideways to the right between the overlap of the front panels 64R,64L. Once the baby has no more need for the swaddler 60, the right and left halves of the swaddler 60 can be readily torn apart along the central perforation line 22 in the rear panel 62, as shown partly completed in FIG. 6, and the baby can then be lifted from the swaddler 60. If any lines that are attached to the baby have been brought out between the overlap of the front panels 64R,64L, there is no need to disconnect the lines and no need to tear or cut the swaddler 60 in any other place in order to remove the baby from the swaddler 60.

A modified machine 10′ for manufacturing the swaddlers 60 is shown in FIG. 7. It is identical to the machine 10 of FIG. 1 except that it has a modified cutting station 46′, an additional perforation station 68, and the packing station 56 is replaced by a rolling station 70. The cutting station 46′ operates similarly to the cutting station 46 to cut away the small pieces 50 and form the slits 54. However, it does not separate the web 14 into pieces 48. Then, the perforation station 68 forms a line 72 of perforations transversely along the centre of each weld 40. Then, the rolling station 70 winds the web 14 into a roll 74. In use, a swaddler 60 that is essentially identical to the swaddler 60 described with reference to FIGS. 2 to 6 can subsequently be dispensed from the roll by tearing along the perforation line 72.

It will be appreciated that many modifications and developments may be made to the embodiments of the invention described above and the methods of manufacture. For example, the order of some of the stations shown in FIGS. 1 and 7 may be changed and the functions of some of the stations may be combined. Instead of forming the swaddler 60 from a flat web 14, an extruded tube of material may be cut longitudinally and then guided, flattened and creased so as to form the cross-section shown in FIG. 3. The dimensions of the swaddler 60 described above are suitable for a new-born baby that is born prematurely or with low birth weight. Larger sizes may be adopted for larger babies. Although, in the embodiment of the swaddler 60 described above, the overlap F of the front panels 64R,64L has been described as being about 31% of the overall width E, a somewhat smaller percentage may be employed, but it is preferred that the overlap F is sufficiently large (no less than about 20% of the overall width E) so as to prevent substantial draughts through the overlap without requiring any fastening means along the overlap. Also, although the overlap F of the front panels 64R,64L has been described as being about 92% of the spacing J between the weld portions 40R,40L, a somewhat smaller percentage may be employed, but it is preferred that the overlap F is sufficiently large (no less than about 60% of the weld spacing J) so as to prevent substantial draughts through the overlap without requiring any fastening means along the overlap. The overlap F is preferably no more than 100% of the weld spacing J so as to avoid any additional manufacturing steps to detach the front right panel 64R from the left weld portion 40L and to detach the front left panel 64L from the right weld portion 40R.

It should be noted that the embodiments of the invention have been described above purely by way of example and that many other modifications and developments may be made thereto within the scope of the present invention.