Well-Being Prevention & Cures

Scientists develop ‘smart’ pacifier to treat infants in hospitals

Researchers from Washington State University say the device can test a baby’s electrolyte, potassium and sodium levels via saliva
Little boy sleeping on soft white blanket. iStock.

Story at a glance

  • Researchers at Washington State University have developed a “smart” pacifier that can detect certain minerals in a saliva. 

  • The new device could potentially help caregivers check if premature infants are dehydrated. 

  • The device works wirelessly and delivers data via Bluetooth. 

Scientists have created the prototype for a “smart” pacifier to help monitor infants in hospitals.  

The device tests for electrolyte, potassium and sodium levels in a baby’s saliva, potentially providing health care workers with a less invasive way to test if an infant is dehydrated.  

Researchers took a common pacifier and cut out channels where the babies’ saliva could reach small sensors. Once on the sensor, the data is then wirelessly delivered via Bluetooth to the caregiver.  

“We know that premature babies have a better chance of survival if they get a high quality of care in the first month of birth,” said Jong-Hoon Kim, associate professor at the Washington State University School of Engineering and Computer Science and a co-corresponding author on the study. “Normally, in a hospital environment, they draw blood from the baby twice a day, so they just get two data points. This device is a non-invasive way to provide real-time monitoring of the electrolyte concentration of babies.” 


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Researchers from Washington State University tested the “smart” pacifier on babies at a hospital and found that the results were comparable to data found from blood draws, according to their findings published in the journal Biosensors and Bioelectronics.  

“You often see NICU pictures where babies are hooked up to a bunch of wires to check their health conditions such as their heart rate, the respiratory rate, body temperature, and blood pressure,” said Kim. “We want to get rid of those wires.” 


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