Researchers at the Stevens Institute of technology have developed an at-home baby heart monitor that could significantly reduce cases of stillbirth. With this tool, mothers will be able to detect any complications earlier, and this is key to saving their babies’ lives. If made widely accessible, this device could save many lives and prevent many parents' heartbreaks.
Hearing your baby’s first heartbeat is one of the most exciting experiences as a new parent. In this moment, it will truly sink in that you are about to bring new life into the world, and that is a gift not available to everyone. Once heard, however, the baby’s heartbeat can also bring anxiety; any fluctuations in the rhythm could mean something is wrong. With this new device, the beat can always be monitored without needing to make a doctor’s appointment.
The device uses the same technology as sensors in a smartphone that tell you whether its orientation is horizontal or vertical. This hardware can record vibrations through a mother’s abdomen, so it can be used to create an at-home heartbeat monitor. Using three different sensors and a bunch of algorithms, the team of researchers was able to isolate fetal vibrations from all the other sounds the device picks up.
The technology is safe to use, so consistent monitoring of the heartbeat is possible. Ultrasound monitors can potentially heat tissue if used for long periods of time, so it would be better if they’re not used daily. This new device simply picks up existing vibrations, much like a doctor using a stethoscope. It’s also lightweight and easy to use, unlike most ECG or ultrasound devices currently out in the market. Since monitoring the baby was made simple and less scary, parents are more likely to be consistent in checking their heartbeat.
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This device has the potential to significantly reduce the number of stillbirths in the country. It’s difficult to objectively measure a baby’s condition just from feeling their kicks or movement, so a measuring device made available to new parents is important in ensuring that the baby is healthy. With the device, it’s more likely that parents will detect any potential issues earlier, so the doctors will more likely be able to save the baby. Parents don’t have to wait until the next check-up appointment to find out if their baby is okay.