Babies may not be able to talk, but according to a company in New York, their urine can.
Yaroslav Faybishenko, one of the founders of Pixie Scientific, recently explained to ABC News that "urine is full of so much health information," which is why he and his wife decided to create a data-collecting diaper.
According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, the "Smart Diaper" works via a dry-reagent panel at the front that functions like a QR code, which parents are able to scan once the diaper is wet. Then, the Smart Diapers app for iOS or Android phones analyzes the baby's urine data.
Not every diaper would need to be connected; parents would only need to use one Smart Diaper per day. The advantage of this consistent data collection, according to Pixie Scientific, is that parents can monitor their child's health over the course of months or years, allowing for trends to emerge.
The Smart Diaper sends urine data to parents' phones via an app.
About 3% of children in the US are affected by UTIs each year, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. In addition, 1 million pediatrician visits are attributed to UTIs every year.
Most of these UTIs are not serious, but they can lead to recurring kidney infections that can later cause permanent damage.
The diapers are not currently on the market, because the FDA has yet to approve the urine test strips embedded inside the diaper.
To help move the project forward, Pixie Scientific has started a crowdfunding campaign on indiegogo. Along with helping to complete the FDA registration process, the funds will help set up a manufacturing line and will also go toward the first hospital study, which is set to monitor children in pediatric intensive care at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.
For gadget lovers everywhere, this may be an exciting piece of technology, but not everyone is convinced. Pediatrician Ari Brown expressed her concerns to ABC News:
"I am not sure you need this for the average kid.
"I'm not confident this is a useful screen for a bladder infection because it's not a clean specimen. Also, for these highly anxious parents, I am not sure it will be reassuring. It might be alarming, in fact."
Still, others are optimistic, seeing the benefits of widespread data collection. Gizmodo blogger Eric Limer writes:
"If enough smart diapers get out in the wild, that data could do more than just ease parents' minds. There's a distinct lack of useful data on UTIs in infants precisely because detection is such a problem."
Though there is not yet any pricing information for the diapers, Faybishenko estimates the Smart Diapers will be about 30 to 40% more expensive than regular diapers. He does note, however, that parents would only need to use one of the diapers a day.
Though other so-called smart diapers that alert parents when a baby's diaper is wet - such as Huggies' TweetPee from Brazil - will soon hit the market, the Smart Diaper is the first of its kind to actually analyze a baby's urine.
Written by Marie Ellis