A wireless, bioelectronic pacifier could eliminate the need for invasive, twice-daily blood draws to monitor babies’ electrolytes in Newborn Intensive Care Units (NICUs).
This smart pacifier can also provide more continuous monitoring of sodium and potassium ion levels. These electrolytes help alert caregivers if babies are dehydrated, a danger for infants, especially those born prematurely or with other health issues.
Researchers tested the smart pacifier on a selection of infants in a hospital, and the results were comparable to data gained from their normal blood draws. Using a common, commercially available pacifier, the researchers created a system that samples a baby’s saliva through microfluidic channels. Whenever the baby has the pacifier in their mouth, saliva is naturally attracted to these channels, so the device doesn’t require any kind of pumping system.
The channels have small sensors inside that measure the sodium and potassium ion concentrations in the saliva. Then this data is relayed wirelessly using Bluetooth to the caregiver.