Baby Boom Boom
by Anh-Tho Nguyen
Coauthors: Thank you to Dr. Sharief Taraman, Dr. Timothy Flannery, and Dr. Anthony Chang for giving me this amazing opportunity to be a part of the MI3 internship. Thank you so much to Dr. Grant who gave me amazing insight and feedback on my device. Additionally, thank you to the amazing 2022 MI3 Leads Team for helping and supporting the development of this abstract idea.
Medical Devices & Digital Health
One of the simplest ways to monitor the health of a newborn is to examine the stool in the newborn’s diapers. Bowel movements are a strong indicator of a newborn’s digestive health. Most parents tend to be surprised when their infant’s stool looks different from what they thought it would look like; however, these odd looking stools are considered healthy. Currently, disposable diapers are used most frequently, but they do not give any indication of whether the baby’s stool is abnormal or not. In addition, disposable diapers are not biodegradable and account for 2% of U.S. landfill waste. Furthermore, new parents may not be aware of the various stools that can be present after the baby ingests different types of milk and nutrients. They may confuse “normal” stools with stools that are a symptom of a disease or infection like gastroenteritis, one of the most common infections among infants. According to the NIH, gastroenteritis is a very common condition that accounts for 10% of pediatric deaths and is the second cause of death worldwide (Ward, 2022). On the other hand, many loose stools are not due to infection but can be due to malabsorption. Helping identify stools that are abnormal in infants by incorporating nanotechnology will track the digestive health of the infant and is an eco-friendly alternative to disposable diapers. The Baby Boom Boom improves upon current disposable diapers by longitudinally analyzing the stool of babies to see if there are any abnormalities. To ensure that the product is reusable, it is made out of organic cotton, an eco-friendly fabric. Not only is the organic cotton biodegradable but also it is machine-wash friendly. Organic cotton is grown without all the harmful pesticides and produced without the dangerous chemicals that normal cotton uses (Agarwal, 2016), which makes it the perfect material for a baby’s delicate skin. The Baby Boom Boom is interwoven with various nitinol textile sensors within the comfortable diaper for precise and continuous monitoring of the baby’s stool. The sensors on the diaper can be recharged using a portable, magnetic charger so that if only one sensor touches the charger, all of the sensors will be charged since they are all connected. This allows for continuous reuse of the diaper even after it has been soiled. The portable charger has the ability to charge up to 3 diapers at a time. Nitinol is flexible, superelastic and has “shape memory” properties so that the sensor can retain the original shape of the diaper as it is washed and comes into contact with the stool. Using nanotechnology, each type of sensor collects data for specific stool qualities such as excess fat and excess reducing substances, which can anticipate poor weight gain and malabsorption. Furthermore, there are sensors that can detect “smells” that are emitted from the feces using chemical sensors; they sense volatile organic compounds such as hydrogen sulfide, methanethiol, and dimethylsulfide (Garner, 2007). Each time there is a new stool sample, the sensors will use an algorithm that removes all patient identifiers to deliver the data to a secure cloud. By storing the data of the baby’s stool each time the baby passes waste through a longitudinal assessment, the physician and the parents can effectively monitor the baby to see if they are delineating from the baby’s typical stool schedule, or from their own “normal”. Using data from the stools of other infants, the physicians and patient’s parents can easily see if the stool is considered normal for the baby’s age, sex, and ethnicity. The Baby Boom Boom will bridge the gap between physicians and new parents since parents no longer need to guess whether their baby’s gut health is normal or abnormal. Physicians can have access to their patient’s stool history, and they can use the algorithm’s diagnosis to compare with their differential for the patient. The data that the sensors of the eco-friendly diaper intake will be connected to an app that will compare the stool with the patient’s past data. Comparing the collected data from the patient with collected data from other patients, the product will alert the parent via the app if there is anything wrong with their newborn by indicating if the stool sample is “normal” or “abnormal.” The app that connects with the diaper will collect the current age, weight, height, ethnicity, and sex of the baby before it compares the stool in the diaper to the database where the patient’s physician is able to access the data too. To ensure that the app is user-friendly and accessible to all, it will be translated to multiple languages, including Spanish and English. In addition, it will ask for the family history and medical history of the patient to provide for a precise reading, taking into account if the user is currently taking medication. Furthermore, the user can utilize the app to take a picture of the stool and compare the stool’s color to other samples. By utilizing all of this data, the stool that the infant excretes will be compared to a sample set that has similar attributes to the patient in order to give a more accurate evaluation of the baby’s stool. The purpose of Baby Boom Boom is to create a new diaper that relieves the stress on parents by carefully monitoring the baby’s stool and reducing the amount of waste created by disposable diapers. Because there is constant observation of the baby’s stool, physicians can intervene once there is an indication that the stool of the baby is abnormal. There are different sizes for this diaper that will allow for toddlers to wear it as well. The Baby Boom Boom’s goal is to create diapers that will reduce the amount of environmental waste and reduce the anxiety of parents since they will be more at ease in knowing the health of their baby just through the analysis of the baby’s boom boom (i.e., poop).