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Home monitors for babies?

An expert has spoken out about wearable baby monitors - designed to track a baby's vital signs.

These are now being sold in the US, but have not yet reached the UK. They come in different forms, such as a sock that the baby wears which measures heart rate, oxygen concentrations, and skin temperature, or a babygrow that measures breathing rate and temperature.

Many companies are "aiming to capitalise on this market", says Dr David King of Sheffield University, UK.

He writes in the British Medical Journal that similar products were on sale in the 1980s and 1990s aimed at preventing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). But "unfortunately epidemiological studies showed that such devices had no effect on the incidence of SIDS in healthy infants". He adds that home monitoring may be justified in some situations, such as for preterm infants or infants who need oxygen, in which case training should also be given.

Dr King points out that the companies that sell the new monitors have adapted their products to avoid the need for regulatory approval from the US Food and Drug Administration. "No published data support any of their claims," he warns, and until they are, "medical professionals and consumers need to be aware that such devices have no proved use in safeguarding infants or detecting health problems, and they certainly have no role in preventing SIDS".

Otherwise, "the substantial amounts of money that parents pay for such devices might lull them into a false sense of security".

I certainly hope that health care professionals would not start recommending these products to parents, with such an appalling lack of evidence.

 In terms of SIDS, information is routinely given out on proven methods to reduce the risk, such as putting the baby to sleep on its back, and avoiding

King, D. Marketing wearable home baby monitors: real peace of mind? BMJ 18 November 2014 doi: 10.1136/bmj.g6639

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