Modern medicine still can’t predict when a woman is to give birth. Premature births can’t be prevented, and by the time contractions kick in it could be too late.
Premature births are a growing health problem which occur in 1 out 8 cases in the US alone. A child born before due date may experience health issues in the future but also infant mortality. With 13 million premature births globally on a yearly basis, the growing rate is worrying doctors because they can’t predict them.
However, this could turn into a matter of the past thanks to a new IoT gadget – Smart Diaphragm. Bio-engineers and clinicians from the University of California, San Francisco, have come up with a tiny silicone device, which once placed inside the woman’s vagina will detect any changes in the cervix, thus detecting potential contractions and early signs of premature birth.
“We’re not going to fix preterm labor with this device. Preterm births are a symptom, not a disease. But we can now know a women is going to give birth and see that she has an issue and treat it earlier. If this works, it opens up a whole therapeutic window we’ve never had before,” explained Mozziyar Etemadi, Co-Principal Investigator.
The sensors in the Bluetooth device track the development of the pregnancy and send the progress to a computer. They are built to detect all changes in the evolution and a doctor will not be necessary for the procedure. Trials will be conducted in Kenya and South Africa, yet details such as for how long it should be worn are to be analyzed. The device is expected be available for purchase in the next five years for approximately $10.
Bluetooth wireless technology makes a connection between the device inside the uterus and an external computer. There are still security issues concerning Bluetooth attacks, so the research team will have to implement security levels to keep mothers’ data private and secure. Will the devices be turned on throughout the entire pregnancy? What are the mothers exposed to when in reach of other Bluetooth devices?