Over 400,000 premature births occur each year in the US, accounting for over $6 billion in annual health care spending. Statistics suggest that the number of premature births is rising, despite advances in prenatal care. Premature birth is associated with higher risk of maternal and infant death, and debilitating infant illnesses such as cerebral palsy, autism, mental retardation, and vision and hearing impairments. Currently, several tools on the market predict pre-term delivery, however the available diagnostic methods do not function early enough to safely and consistently administer labor-suppressing drugs.
This E-Team developed a cervical bioimpedance system that predicts the onset of birth early enough to safely administer preventative drugs. The system detects very subtle changes in cervical tissue composition, which indicate when the cervix is readying for childbirth. The system is composed of an electrode probe with a disposable sterile plastic tip containing the circuitry necessary to measure bioimpedance.
Update: the team has successfully licensed the technology (details not available).