Researchers testing ‘smart pacifier’ to track, relay NICU baby stats

Researchers in the United States and South Korea are testing a prototype of a “smart pacifier” they hope will improve the care of babies in neonatal intensive care units.

The pacifier would track electrolyte, sodium and potassium levels in premature and low birth weight infants, relaying the results to the caregiver via Bluetooth. The researchers — who in the U.S. are located in Washington, Georgia and Kansas — published their initial findings recently in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.

The study authors say the pacificiers could eventually replace the painful, invasive twice-daily blood draws typically used to monitor electrolytes.

“You often see NICU pictures where babies are hooked up to a bunch of wires to check their health conditions such as their heart rate, the respiratory rate, body temperature and blood pressure,” study co-author Jong-Hoon Kim, an associate professor at the Washington State University School of Engineering and Computer Science, said in a May 16 news release. “We want to get rid of those wires.”

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