The Medical Home: Babysitting the Baby Before it’s Born

pregnancyIsrael-based Biopad has developed a device to monitor a baby’s kicking inside the womb, reports Israel21c. The product was developed to help prevent stillbirths, which are 10 times more likely than deaths resulting from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and amount to about 30,000 of all births each year in the US. The makers of the device claim that some of these deaths could be avoided if women had a way to monitor the kick rate of their babies starting from the 22nd week of pregnancy. They are referring to the correlation between fetal movement and stillbirth that has been found. Today, clinicians rely on kick rates in the womb as an indicator of the baby’s health, asking expectant mothers to pay attention to it and to report to an emergency room immediately should the movements stop or decrease significantly. This technology is especially important for those women who cannot feel their baby moving. Biopad, however, has opted to forgo the long and expensive FDA regulatory process required to be register a medical device in the US, and intends to market it as an entertainment tool instead. They’re now working on an application and a small sensor to be attached to the belly for 20 minutes, via a thin cable from the Blackberry, iPhone or another handheld device. The application pairs the kicks, registered by the monitor, to animated baby movements on a screen, showing mothers unable to feel it when the baby is moving. As anadded plus, she can share the reading with friends and family.

Similar products for monitoring the fetal heart rate at home are sometimes prescribed to women with high-risk pregnancies so that doctors can observe the baby’s progress while avoiding frequent office visits. The market for these kinds of products is not limited, however, to pregnancies that require special attention. Neonatal visits are often scheduled weeks apart, with expecting mothers having very little information about the baby’s status in between visits. This causes anxiety, even for mothers with healthy pregnancies. Devices like the Biopad and similarly-marketed heart monitors from companies such as BellyBeats and Summer Infant and the are likely only the beginning of this trend. We suspect mini ultrasound machines for the home are next.

Keep baby safe, sound and kicking with Biopad

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