Recently a group of pediatricians and medical device researchers have published a paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association about their concerns regarding consumer use of electronic devices that monitor a baby’s vital signs. These professionals suggest that these monitoring devices may be causing undue stress to parents without having any medical benefits and may not even be necessary.
The companies that make these monitors aggressively market them to parents of healthy babies promising security and peace of mind about their child’s lung and heart health. But these researchers say that there is no evidence that baby monitors are life-saving or even accurate. In fact many of these products cause uncertainty, panic and self-doubt in parents.
The baby monitors are attached to the baby’s body or clothing and supposedly monitor movement, breathing, heart rate, and oxygen level in blood.
The baby monitors of concern are sold by Owlet, Monbaby, and Baby Vida. The cost of these monitors vary from $100-$300. Since the manufacturers of these monitors do not claim to diagnose, treat, or prevent a medical disorder, they are not regulated under the same rigid guidelines as medical devices.
However, researchers believe that baby monitor manufacturers heavily promote their devices and give the impression to parents that they could potentially be lifesaving, even to the extent of recommending that the monitors should be worn whenever the infant is sleeping.
To date, there is no study or public evidence indicating that these baby monitors are either accurate or sensitive in monitoring a baby’s vital signs. And since these devices are not regulated by the FDA, one wonders what type of testing has been done on these monitors to assure their safety and quality.
Doctors warn that even a single abnormal reading may cause great panic in the parent and could force them to rush to a doctor or the nearest emergency room. An erroneous diagnosis could further lead to unnecessary testing in hospitals at enormous costs to the parents.
While the manufacturers do admit their devices do not prevent SIDS, they do indicate that these devices can monitor vital signs. They state that their monitor notifies the parent when the baby turns over in sleep and the monitor also assesses the breathing movements. But so far these manufacturers have not produced any evidence that these monitors actually work in real life.
There is great concern among healthcare workers that these monitors simply result in over diagnosis and unnecessary panic. They are warning all parents to be very careful before buying these monitors because there is almost no evidence to support the claims made by the manufacturers.