A Wireless Device for Your Fetus?

Heart monitor

How young is too young for your kids to have their own wireless devices? Sixteen? Thirteen? Seven? How about while they’re still in the womb?

Earlier this month the West Wireless Health Institute released details on its upcoming  test of a wireless fetal-monitoring device. The hand-held monitor, called Sense4Baby, sends data about the fetus over the cellular network. The system will be tested on women with high-risk pregnancies in the Yucatán, Mexico, first in medical clinics and then directly from the mothers’ homes.

Used in conjunction with a kit that tracks the mother’s blood pressure, blood glucose, and protein in urine – all those things you get tested for at your prenatal appointments – the Sense4 Baby system aims to provide high-quality monitoring at a lower cost. I imagine this would be life-changing for women living in remote areas, and for the rest of us, just think of all the copays you’d save!

I’ve heard of similar technology being used to monitor the health of the mother in a high-risk pregnancy (wireless devices report things like blood sugar levels directly to her doctor), but this is the first I’ve seen of a wireless product monitoring the baby directly.

Right now Sense4Baby is being tested as a medical device only, but that’s not to say it won’t eventually be available for casual use, just another cool gadget for parents with too much anxiety and/or money on their hands.

In an article about the Sense4Baby monitor, Connected World magazine mentions Exmobaby pajamas, which are designed to monitor an infant’s vital signs, including heart rate, skin temperature, moisture and movements, and then transmit that data to the parents’ computers, tablets, and smartphones through the AT&T cellular network. A basic kit will run you $1,000 and lasts only as long as your baby fits in the outfit (so, basically, what feels like 5 minutes).

To me, that seems a little…much – both the cost and the idea that average parents and babies need all of this technology to feel secure. (And I thought I was being frivolous when I chose the black-and-white video baby monitor instead of the cheaper sound-only one!)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for healthy mothers and babies, and so as long as the products are safe, let’s hope they’re soon available to everyone who needs them. For those who simply want them…well, that’s their money to waste, not mine.

What do you think? Is this too much technology too soon? Are we just one step closer to the human race being implanted with microchips? Or is more information always better when mothers’ and babies’ health are involved?