Baby monitors that track infants’ vital signs may offer parents peace of mind, but there is no evidence that the devices are safe, accurate or effective, according to a review in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The emerging line of baby monitors from various manufacturers track an infant’s oxygen saturation or pulse rate through wearable devices like smart socks, onesies or diaper clips that record information and send it to parents through a smart phone app. Manufacturers of these devices don’t claim outright that monitoring will help prevent sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. But they do say they can help parents relax, especially parents of premature babies or ones who suffer from RSV, an infection that causes breathing problems.
But medical experts say that the devices can actually cause undue stress for parents, leading them to make unnecessary trips to the hospital for expensive and potentially harmful tests. “There is no evidence that they’ll help kids and there’s some evidence of potential harm,” said Dr. Christopher Bonafide, a pediatrician and co-author of the JAMA review.
Many parents say that putting up with potential false alarms is worth the peace of mind. Mollie and Jeff Evans, for example, developed the Baby Vida monitor shortly after their twin baby girls contracted RSV. Doctors told them to check the infants’ breathing every 45 minutes. “We thought, ‘Well, what happens between zero and 45 minutes?’ And we said we need to do something about this.” The Evans designed a sock with sensors that monitor oxygen levels and heart rate.
They say the device is not a SIDS monitor, but “if we saved one child’s life in being able to create this product for somebody, it was worth it.”