Researchers at Stevens Institute of Technology have invented a new wearable device designed to help expecting parents keep track of their childâ€™s fetal heartbeat.
The lightweight technology uses seismo-cardiogram and gyro-cardiogram recordings collected from a consumer-grade sensor. When placed onÂ the motherâ€™s stomach, it detects detects vibrations when theÂ baby is moving or its heart is beating.Â
In the small studyÂ of 10 pregnant women, the research team found that performanceÂ was comparable between the new wearable sensors and the simultaneously collected recordings of fetal cardiotocography, which is currently the standard of care, they wrote inÂ IEEE Xplore.
The team is pitching this as an alternative to larger sensorsÂ with a short battery lives. According to a statement the technology weighs â€śnext to nothingâ€ť and has more than a 24-hour battery life.Â
The end goal would be to build a custom device employing the technology, according to a statement.Â
WHY IT MATTERS
This crisis is particular prevalent in the black community. In 2016 black infants died at a rate of 11.4 per 1,000 births, compared to white babies that died at a rate of 4.9 per 1,000 births, according to the CDC.
This new technology is being pitched as a way to help expecting parents keep track of their unborn childâ€™s health.Â
“Almost a third of stillbirths occur in the absence of complicating factors,” Negar Tavassolian, an associate professor who led the work at Stevens, said in a statement. “Our device could let a pregnant woman know if her fetus is compromised and she needs to go to the doctor.”
THE LARGER TREND
There are scores of new companies coming onto the market addressing fetal health. In 2017Â Bloomlife,Â a womanâ€™s health tech company, landed two grants totaling in $2.3 million to be used towards funding a longitudinal study of its remote fetal monitoring wearable and to expand the development of its product.Â
But fetal monitors have a long history in the space. InÂ 2015 Sense4Baby,Â a maternal and fetal monitoring product, landed its second FDA 510(k) clearance for a tool that allows pregnant mothers to perform non-stress tests in their homes. As far back as 2011 the FDA grantedÂ Monica Healthcareâ€™s AN24 wireless fetal monitorÂ clearance to be used in single baby births.Â