Electronic pacifier helps preemies learn to suck

Called the Pacifier Activated Lullaby, the device plays music to encourage babies to suck correctly, something that's hard for preemies to do. Now available to hospitals.
Written by Janet Fang, Contributor

Babies who are born prematurely often don’t have the ability to make the sucking motions needed to get milk from mom or bottles.

So researchers designed an electronic pacifier to help them make the trip home faster.
IEEE Spectrum reports.

The pacifier senses when the baby is sucking correctly, and as a reward, plays a musical lullaby to encourage the baby to continue.

They call it the Pacifier Activated Lullaby (pictured). The details:

  • ‘Proprietary piezo sensing technology’ detects the baby's sucking motion.
  • Feedback algorithms determine when the breathe-suck-swallow reflex is correct, and a signal is sent through a wire to a speaker that plays music.

Some babies start feeding after using the device for 15 minutes, according to the inventor, music professor Jayne Standley at Florida State University.

She has also found that infants exposed to musical reinforcement increase their sucking rates up to 2.5 times. And if preterm infants reduce their stay in the neonatal intensive care units by 5 days, that’s about $10,000 saved per infant.

Florida-based Powers Device Technologies bought the rights to the device, and the company announced this week that it had begun selling PAL to hospital neo-natal units. It’s been approved by US Food and Drug Administration, and the company plans to make it available to parents as well.

[Via IEEE Spectrum]

Image: Office of Research, Florida State University

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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