CervoCheck – Grad students innovated premature birth detector


Child birth is a joyous moment in the life of parents. But when baby is born premature, parents and baby may go through a hard time including health problems and high medical bills. According to The National Center for Health Statistics there are about 500,000 premature births in the United States, each year.  The premature birth costs society at least $26 billion a year. Recent reports showed that biomedical engineering students from John Hopkins have developed a prototype that can detect labor at an early stage and can be helpful in preventing premature births.

Premature births have always been a major health concern for doctors and researchers as preterm births are widely linked to neonatal deaths or serious health problems such as breathing difficulties and brain development issues.  Considering the need, John Hopkins students have come up with a device that is revolutionary in the field of detecting early labor.

About The Device
The device is known as CervoCheck, it is a small ring embedded with sensors that picks up electrical signals associated with uterine contractions. The ring is designed to embed in woman’s vaginal canal at physician’s office or hospital. The sensor detects the electrical signals directly from the places in the body where they originate, as opposed to pick them up through the abdominal wall.

The prototype has not yet been used on human, but early animal test results are promising.  The device needs to be tested on more animals and then on human. Students are very positive with the performance of the device and told that the device could eventually help physicians discover early signs of labor and allow the them to delay preterm deliveries, giving these babies more time to mature. The device is believed to prolong the pregnancy by as much as six weeks.

justify;">Health care cost for premature babies
A recent article in Managed Care said, “The average cost for infants hospitalized in neonatal intensive care units is around $3,000 per day. While the average cost to an employer of a healthy baby born at full-term, or 40 weeks of gestation, is $2,830, the average cost for a premature baby is $41,610. If the baby is born at 26 weeks, the cost can quickly rise to $250,000 or more.” It’s huge and loads of burden on parents. The device is expected to save $44,000 per patient on an average, by determining labor signs at an early stage.

The students who invented the CervoCheck system were, from left, Karin Hwang, Chris Courville, Deepika Sagaram and Rose Huang. All of them recently received their graduate degrees from John Hopkins.

This is a revolutionary device that can save millions of baby from going through complicated facets of life just after the birth. Some premature babies combat the situation and perform well; while some babies do not cope up the situation even after extra care all over their life. I admire young researchers for developing an innovative device to address this need and look forward to seeing the device in the hospital.

Source: The Baltimore Sun

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