New Tool for Babies' Health: a 'Smart' Pacifier

Device monitors electrolytes without the need to draw blood
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2022 11:30 AM CDT
'Smart' Pacifier May Improve Babies' Health Care
Stock image of a non-smart pacifier.   (Getty/dragana991)

(Newser) – Add pacifiers to the list of "smart" devices. Researchers at Washington State University have created one designed to improve health care for babies in the ICU, reports CBS News. As they explain in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics, the devices helped nurses and doctors monitor electrolytes in hospitalized infants to make sure the babies did not get dehydrated. The big benefit is that the pacifiers eliminated the need for twice-daily blood draws while providing comparable results. Not only can those draws be painful, they are typically done in the morning and night, leaving a long gap of data between, per Science Daily. The pacifiers can provide constant information.

"We know that premature babies have a better chance of survival if they get a high quality of care in the first month of birth," says co-author Jong-Hoon Kim. "This device is a non-invasive way to provide real-time monitoring of the electrolyte concentration of babies." The concept is relatively simple: The researchers fitted a standard pacifier with sensors that send information drawn from the baby's saliva to the caregiver via Bluetooth. The next step is to conduct a larger study to better verify that the pacifiers are collecting accurate data about sodium and potassium ion levels. (Read more discoveries stories.)

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