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Parents Don’t Need Fancy Baby Monitors To Raise Healthy Kids

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New, high-end baby monitors that offer a plethora of features, supposedly to help parents track their kids’ health, may not have any medical benefits, researchers say.

Baby monitors have come a long way. Now, not only do they show a live feed of children, they can also measure vital signs – like heart rate and breathing – and send all this information to parents’ smartphones.

But there’s no scientific evidence that these monitors are accurate, a study suggests. In fact, constant reliance on such devices may lead to false alarms over babies’ health and safety, or unnecessary panic, Live Science reports.

The researchers analyzed five baby monitors that have been introduced in the past two years, along with their accompanying smartphone apps. They also collected information on these monitors, namely MonBaby, Baby Vida, Owlet, Snuza Pico and Sproutling. The devices cost between $150 to $300 each.

One big issue the researchers found was that the monitors would sound an alarm even when there was nothing wrong Dr. Christopher Bonafide, co-author of the report and a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, says,

An upset, crying 1-month-old baby could have a heart rate that exceeds 180 beats per minute, which would cause a heart rate alarm on the Baby Vida monitor using its predetermined heart rate alarm settings.

This heart-rate level is not a cause for immediate concern, but a parent “might be compelled to seek care from a physician for reassurance, potentially leading to an EKG, chest X-ray, blood test, and admission for monitoring,” Bonafide says.

This, in turn, would result in unnecessary discomfort for the child, anxiety for the parents, not to mention hospital bills.

The baby monitor manufacturers don’t claim that their products can diagnose, treat or prevent diseases. But the researchers found that an advertisement of Owlet mentions that the device may notify parents when something is wrong to avoid sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). There is no evidence that the claims are true, or that these monitors accurately measure health markers at all.

Bonafide recommends that parents discuss the use of baby monitors with their pediatricians, so that doctors might better address the underlying reasons why the parents feel the need to use them in the first place.

The study was published in JAMA.


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