Detective Pacifier – A Re-designed Pacifier for Preventative Care

by Jonanne Talebloo

Coauthors: Thank you to Dr. Timothy Flannery for your invaluable feedback and guidance through the development of this idea. Thank you to Dr. Anthony Chang and Dr. Sharief Taraman for providing me with the opportunity to be an MI3 intern. In addition, thank you to all of the leads that put in so much time to help me develop my ideas and pursue them further.

Medical Devices & Digital Health

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to the development of rickets, a disease most common between the ages of 6 and 36 months old. Currently, to diagnose these deficiencies, blood samples must be taken and measured, which is both burdensome and often traumatic to babies and precludes the possibility of constant regulation. A non-invasive, at-home, and cheap alternative is necessary to promote the healthy development of babies worldwide.

The quantitative determination of 25 (OH) Vitamin D3 and 25 (OH) vitamin D2 can be tested in babies through a salivary 25 (OH) D assay, which can be used to replace the more invasive serum 25 (OH) D assay. This is also true for Vitamin C. A pacifier-based saliva collection method is a feasible and effective way to collect saliva that simplifies saliva collection among young children2. As the baby is using the pacifier, a 10 microliter sample of the child’s saliva is collected and contained in the back of the pacifier. There is a 4mm wide small channel in the silicone nipple that contains a PVC tube in it. Polystyrene valves prevent the saliva from flowing back into the baby’s mouth. The pacifier also has a closed vacutainer system that minimizes the risk of saliva contamination. The saliva contacts a disposable biosensor. In the pacifier cap, there is a bioelectronic dual sensor chip that allows for quick monitoring of vitamin C and D.

The chip has been engineered to compactly fit into the pacifier cap, combining a vitamin D immunoassay and an electrocatalytic vitamin C amperometric assay on neighboring electrodes. The sensor allows for cross-talk free detection of both vitamins in 25 minutes. Electrochemical sensors are at the forefront of biosensing as they are quick, compact, and low cost. The product begins by measuring vitamin C in 60 seconds. There is a 20-minute incubation of the sample with the labeled vitamin D and electrochemical detection by chronoamperometry, which takes 2.5 minutes3. There are also electronics transmitters in the pacifier cap that touch the backside of the biosensor’s electrode trip and can transmit the data to any device with Bluetooth capability. Here, a parent can easily read and act on the infant’s vitamin D and C levels. For families that do not have access to mobile devices or Bluetooth to download the data, a colorimetric biosensor can be used in order to allow parents to visually see whether their baby has vitamin D or C deficiency4. An easily interpretable color card is included in the product to allow for ease of interpretation of results. The cap has the potential to be interchangeable and expand to testing for pathogens such as cytomegalovirus, herpes simple virus, or streptococcus. Detecting such deficiencies and pathogens early can allow for measures to be taken in order to improve babies’ health outcomes. This new sensing chip technology reduces the volume of corresponding bioreagents and reduces costs of disposable consumables to below 5USD. There are no small ingestibles to ensure the safety of all users.