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January 24/31, 2017

The Emerging Market of Smartphone-Integrated Infant Physiologic Monitors

Author Affiliations
  • 1Division of General Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
  • 3Health Devices Group, ECRI Institute, Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania
  • 4Division of Neonatology, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
JAMA. 2017;317(4):353-354. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.19137

In the past 2 years, a new class of infant physiologic monitors marketed to parents for use in the home has emerged. Smartphone applications (apps) integrated with sensors built into socks, onesies, buttons, leg bands, and diaper clips have the capability to display infants’ respirations, pulse rate, and blood oxygen saturation, and to generate alarms for apnea, tachycardia, bradycardia, and desaturation (Table). Despite the lack of publicly available evidence supporting the safety, accuracy, effectiveness, or role of these monitors in the care of well infants, sales of these products are brisk and the market is expanding. For example, the makers of a “smart sock” monitor (Owlet Baby Care) that claims to alert parents if their infant stops breathing1 recently reported sales of 40 000 units at $250 each.2