- Written by Written by Queen Munguti for Kenyakidz
A ‘smart’ baby bib is hoping to curb choking among infants which is the fourth leading cause of death in children under the age of five. The bib, which is fitted with a choking sensor, will alert a parent when an infant has stopped breathing.
Levit Nudi, the designer, came up with the revolutionary product at a time when statistics indicate that chocking the fourth leading cause of death in children under the age of five, and every year more than 100 children between the age of 18 months and five years die from choking and suffocation, according a study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“This bib will come with a special light-weight sensor that monitors the baby’s breathing and is able to detect when they are choking, suffocating or have stopped breathing and alerts the parent or guardian,” said Nudi.
Infants are at a greater risk of choking than adults because of their immature airways, distraction and play during eating, as well as a natural tendency to put objects in their mouth.
A study by the encyclopedia of children’s health on the characteristics of objects known to commonly cause choking deaths in children found that round objects are most dangerous.
Objects such as a small ball, coins or a marble can completely seal a child's trachea. Round or cylindrical food or candy, chewing gum, and deflated balloons also present choking hazards.
Nudi, was inspired to create the bibs after he experienced the dangers of choking. “I lost a newborn niece to choking and it jolted me to try and find a solution to a problem that is common in the world.”
Choking usually occurs when instead of swallowing food down the food pipe or oesophagus, it is diverted down the windpipe, or trachea. This can block off the supply of air to the lungs, and cause involuntary coughing and gasping for air.
If the obstruction is quickly removed by giving sharp back blows with the heel of one hand to the baby, then no lasting damage will be done, but if the brain is starved of oxygen for more than a few seconds, it can lead to serious injury, such as permanent brain damage, which can result if the oxygen supply is cut off for around two minutes, and death in three minutes.
The sensor is fitted inside the bib such that when it detects that a child is choking, it immediately raises sounds a buzzer, and incase the parent or guardian does not respond within a given time because they are out of hearing range, they are alerted via a call or sms text that the baby is in trouble.
“The concept is still being tested but we have already done a prototype for proof of concept and functionality testing using models,” said Nudi.
“One bib is adequate for one child and will only need to be replaced when the chip gets broken. However, breakage is very unlikely as the design has included great safety measures.”
The bib is washable and will not be damaged because the sensor chip is covered in a waterproof shield. The software is also safe and will not harm the baby physically.
“There are no potentially harmful radiations involved in the technology; it is as safe as the hardware that runs it,” said Nudi
“We are yet to test whether the software can at times malfunction but we expect to experience bugs during development hence we will have three phased clinical trials,” he said.
“We will also include measures that will allow the bibs to give a signal when it stops working so that parents can replace it.”
The product is expected to run on batteries, which can last for ages given the low power consumptions. Nudi says that the batteries may even last one year before they are replaced.
On how soon the product to hit the market, Nudi says; “the team is finalizing on collaborations with bib manufactures and medical device companies and we expect them to be available for testing in the market soon.”
The estimated price of one bib is Sh450.