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Pacifier Biosensor Noninvasively Monitors Newborn Health

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 26 Dec 2019
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Image: A biosensor inside a pacifier can monitor newborns (Photo courtesy of UCSD)
Image: A biosensor inside a pacifier can monitor newborns (Photo courtesy of UCSD)
A new study shows how a pacifier-based biosensor can track metabolite levels in saliva, providing a way to diagnose and treat even the smallest of patients.

Developed by researchers at the University of Alcalá (UAH; Madrid, Spain) and the University of California, San Diego (UCSD; USA) the novel pacifier operates as a portable wireless device that noninvasively monitors biomarkers in the infant’s saliva. Mouth movements on the pacifier result in efficient saliva pumping, promoting unidirectional flow from the mouth to a built-in, integrated electrochemical detection chamber that contains an enzymatic biosensor, located outside of the oral cavity.

To examine the capabilities of the pacifier, the researchers used it to detect glucose levels in diabetic adults and compared the results to their blood glucose levels, which showed good correlation. And while the platform has not yet been tested in babies, the researchers suggest that it could simplify infant health monitoring in a real-time and in a selective fashion, and that in the future it could be configured to monitor other disease biomarkers present in human saliva. The study was published on November 5, 2019, in Analytical Chemistry.

“Wearable sensors for noninvasive monitoring of physiological parameters are a growing technology. Especially in neonates, the development of portable and non-harmful monitoring devices is urgently needed, because they cannot provide any feedback about discomfort or health complaints,” concluded lead author Laura García-Carmona, PhD, of the UAH department of nano-engineering, and colleagues. “This initial demonstration of glucose monitoring introduces new possibilities for metabolites monitoring in infants and neonates using saliva as a noninvasive sample.”

Saliva is an extracellular fluid that is 99.5⁠% water plus electrolytes, metabolites, mucus, white blood cells, epithelial cells, enzymes (such as amylase and lipase), and antimicrobial agents (secretory IgA and lysozymes.) The enzymes are essential in beginning the process of digestion of dietary starches and fats. Saliva also performs a lubricating function, wetting food and permitting the initiation of swallowing, and protecting the oral mucosa.

Related Links:
University of Alcalá
University of California, San Diego



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