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They created a bioelectronic pacifier to monitor the health of babies in hospitals

They created a bioelectronic pacifier to monitor the health of babies in hospitals

The purpose of the pacifier is to collect information from newborns without having to use invasive methods (iStock)
The purpose of the pacifier is to collect information from newborns without having to use invasive methods (iStock)

A team from the Washington State University College of Engineering and Computer Science (USA) developed a bioelectronic pacifier capable of monitoring the status of babies’ blood in Newborn Intensive Care Units (NICUs).

With this electronic and wireless device it is possible to control the salivary electrolytes of neonates, as well as detect their sodium and potassium levels in real time, without resorting to procedures such as blood extraction.

As stated in the university magazine Biosensors and Bioelectronicsthis smart pacifier would avoid invasive methods for newborns and provide extra hospital care for premature babies or babies with other health problems.

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In addition to Washington State University, Other researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Pukyong National University (South Korea), and Yonsei University School of Medicine are co-authors of this paper. (also from that Asian country).

In a preview posted on the website of the American institution that published this study, the professor and author of the project Jong-Hoon Kim explained how this system could benefit hospitalized babies.

First, recalled that the main objective of this project to develop bioelectronic pacifiers is focused on eliminating all the cables that usually surround newborn and premature babies in intensive care units.

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The main objective of this project is to eliminate all the cables that usually surround newborn and premature babies in intensive care units (Getty)
The main objective of this project is to eliminate all the cables that usually surround newborn and premature babies in intensive care units (Getty)

“We often see images where babies are attached to a bunch of wires to monitor their health conditions, such as heart rate, respiratory rate, body temperature and blood pressure. We want to get rid of those cables,” she expressed.

In addition, the teacher indicated that blood draws can not only be potentially painful for newborns, rather, random information is collected in them, due to the fact that they are carried out in specific sections (in the morning and at night) and not constantly.

To provide detailed data on the baby’s condition, this bioelectronic pacifier features a system that is incorporated into a normal pacifier and samples the baby’s saliva through microfluidic channels.

In this way, whenever the baby has the pacifier on, information is collected through these channels, so the device does not require any type of pumping system and works autonomously.

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Furthermore, these microfluidic channels integrate a series of selective sensors that measure the concentrations of sodium and potassium ions in the saliva of babies.

The research team is working on more affordable products for pacifier development (Photo: Benjamin Nolte/dpa)
The research team is working on more affordable products for pacifier development (Photo: Benjamin Nolte/dpa)

Once the device collects all this information about the patients, transmits it wirelessly to electronic equipment via Bluetooth.

In this way, the medical team caring for the newborn will be able to know the health status of hospitalized babies at all times, without taking blood samples or other invasive methods.

For the moment, andhe team of researchers that has developed this smart device is working on making components more affordable and recyclable.

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Once that goal is achieved, it is planned to develop a larger prototype of the bioelectronic pacifier for testing in other older patients.

“We know that premature babies have a better chance of survival if they receive high-quality care in the first month of life,” Jong-Hoon Kim concluded.

(With information from Europe Press)

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