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Preterm birth prediction, AI lamps for sleep training and a warning system for leaving your baby in a hot car: here's the best of CES 2021.
Corinne ReichertSenior Writer
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
I've been covering technology and mobile for 12 years, first as a telecommunications reporter and assistant editor at ZDNet in Australia, then as CNET's West Coast head of breaking news, and now in the Thought Leadership team.
As a pregnant woman, I went into CES 2021 eager to see technology that could make the childbearing experience easier. I want data to help predict if things have a chance of going wrong, I want surveillance of the health of my pregnancy, and I want all the technology possible to make raising a newborn easier.
Predicting premature births with a digital health tool
Preterm birth, or babies born before 37 weeks, is the leading cause of newborn death. Just as concerning are babies that are born very prematurely -- at 28 weeks or less -- who have these risks extend into the first year of life, including being at a higher risk of SIDs. Right now, the only way to predict preterm birth is by asking a pregnant woman if she's given birth prematurely before.
"That approach only picks up 7% of preterm births," says Dr. Avi Patil, CEO of Nixxi. His company has developed a digital health tool, called PopNatal, to more accurately predict preterm births. "Our rate is about 75% sensitivity to pick up women who will deliver prematurely."
PopNatal tallies up more than 300 risk factors of preterm birth for each patient. These include being pregnant with twins, triplets or more; IVF conceptions; a short time period between pregnancies; high blood pressure; diabetes; the age of the mother; smoking; drinking; stress; working long hours with long periods of standing; and family history of preeclampsia.
PopNatal consolidates those factors into an algorithm that determines whether a woman is at high risk or low risk of preterm birth. The form takes around 15 minutes to fill out, and Nixxi will send the results directly to your doctor within 72 hours.
PopNatal has been tested on thousands of pregnant women, and was developed by Patil, who is a high-risk obstetrician, and Dr. Chad Grotegut, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist. Between them, they have 27 years of experience in providing care to high-risk pregnancies.
They want it to be used broadly, not just by those with good health insurance. Currently, women who want to use it directly can access the tool online to get an individual risk assessment and companion report with guidance. Nixxi is also looking to work with health care providers.
Next up, Patil told CNET Nixxi is developing blood tests to pinpoint very high-risk women, and to pick up babies who have a higher risk of being in the NICU.
Wireless fetal monitoring while giving birth
Electronics company Philips showcased a fetal monitoring device at CES: The Avalon beltless maternal and fetal monitoring solution. Adhesive electrodes are stuck onto the mother's belly and magnetically connect with a central pod. That pod sends info via Wi-Fi to a base station while the delivery progresses.
Instead of ultrasound, the fetal monitoring pod sends ECG and EMG signals to gauge the fetal and maternal heart rates and uterine activity from the mother's abdomen.
And because it's wireless, mothers in labor can adjust their position in bed, walk around the room or even take a shower while still hooked up to the monitoring system. According to Philips, more freedom to move around during labor means less pain, more comfort, a shorter birth and fewer episiotomies.
It can also be used simultaneously with Philips' ultrasound transducer products, including using the same Avalon cableless base station. Because it doesn't require a strap to hold it place, it can even be used on mothers with a high BMI and women undergoing an epidural.
This year, Philips updated its breast pump to include natural motion technology, which combines suction and nipple stimulation for a steadier milk flow. The Philips Avent double electric breast pump has silicone cushions that fit to the size and shape of the breast, eight stimulation and 16 expression levels, pause and start buttons and a rechargeable battery.
It'll be hitting the market in February and comes with a travel bag and pumping bag.
Smart cribs to rock baby to sleep
Cradlewise announced at CES it's launching its smart crib in 2021 across the US. The $1,500 crib uses an inbuilt baby monitor and artificial intelligence to learn your baby's sleeping patterns. If it senses your baby is waking up early, it starts bouncing and playing music to put the baby back to sleep.
The crib can be used from birth to 24 months. "We designed a crib that we wanted as parents," says Radhika Patil, co-founder and CEO of Cradlewise. "Modern baby monitors just inform you that the baby has woken up. Cradlewise acts on early wakeup signs and automatically soothes the baby back to sleep."
It will also share your baby's sleep data on an app.
You can preorder a Cradlewise Smart Crib now, but it currently only has availability of mid-January listed for the San Francisco Bay Area. For everyone else, you'll have to wait longer.
Lamps for sleep-training baby
Also being showcased at virtual CES this week is an LED lamp that Japanese company First Ascent says is the world's first AI-powered sleep trainer. For babies who have trouble falling asleep at night or wake up soon after falling asleep, the Ainenne lamp mimics natural morning light to get your baby's body clock to reset. You can either choose the wakeup time yourself or the lamp predicts the best time based on setting an optimal circadian rhythm for your baby.
To help your baby fall asleep, it has white noise and a blue light function so eyes aren't strained during middle-of-the-night wakeups.
It will also help you understand why your baby might be crying. The artificially intelligent lamp has crying analysis that taps into the studies of 150,000 crying patterns across 150 different countries. It will advise you on how your baby is likely feeling, including hungry and sleepy.
It then collects and analyzes your baby's sleeping and crying data and presents you with this data in the smartphone app.
The Ainenne lamp is currently in production, with the company planning to start crowdfunding for sales in Japan in March 2021. After that, it plans to expand into the US at a cost of around $400.
A warning system for leaving your baby in a hot car
Since 1998, 873 children have died in the US after being left in a hot car. One is too many. The Tata baby car seat system will warn you if you've accidentally left a child behind.
"It's not a discussion about whether you're a good parent or not. It's purely a fact that we live a stressful life full of distractions," Rudolf Jantos, head of B2C marketing at Italian company Filo, told CNET.
The system includes a pad for the baby seat that connects via Bluetooth to send warnings to your phone. The pad senses if a child is sitting in the seat but the parent's phone has left the area. It sends a warning at three minutes with a sound notification, at four minutes with a phone call and at seven minutes with a phone call to your emergency contacts. The pad is washable and uses round watch batteries that last for up to a year.
It's looking to launch in the US by the fourth quarter of 2021 -- but because some states don't allow anything to be placed between a baby and a car seat, Filo has also developed a band that attaches to the strap of the seat belt. It uses the same technology, sensing it's touching a human being through the clothes. The company is also considering direct integration of its technology with car seat manufacturers.
The Tata baby safety system is priced at $60 for the band or the seat pad and would be sold through distributors like Amazon, as well as its own site.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.