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Computer system designed to prevent SIDS deaths

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July 13, 2011

The BabyBeat computer system is being developed to prevent babies from falling victim to S...

The BabyBeat computer system is being developed to prevent babies from falling victim to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (Photo: Heinz Albers)

According to the latest statistics, every year approximately 2,500 babies die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in the U.S. alone, with thousands more falling victim to it around the world. In typical cases, an infant passes away in their sleep, with no apparent explanation. While various theories have been put forward, the exact cause of SIDS is unknown. While not offering an answer to the mystery, two students from Israel's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) are working on a computer system, that could keep more babies from becoming SIDS statistics.

Called "BabyBeat," the system was created by BGU Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences students Tomer Apel and Anava Finesilver. It incorporates a consumer video camera that is hooked up to a home computer, running the BabyBeat software.

The camera monitors the baby's skin tone, watching for a specific change that is imperceptible to the human eye. That change in skin tone is caused by a sudden decrease in heart rate, which is believed to precede SIDS deaths. An algorithm in the software estimates the baby's pulse based on the camera's skin tone information, and recognizes when that pulse dramatically slows down. The computer then sounds an alarm, both waking up the baby, and alerting its parents.

Although it's still in the developmental stage, Apel and Finesilver hope that BabyBeat can ultimately be commercially produced and marketed.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
7 Comments

It is not true that the cause of SIDS is not known. I know. Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is caused by human pheromones. It is an adjustment device to assure the match of available resources to population needs. Not enough food? Everybody gets 'tense'. Being 'tense' increases anxiety-released pheromone. One of the effects of anxiety-released pheromone is death of infants.

The first six weeks of life have no SIDS because for the first six weeks, human beings are unable to produce tears. Tears are themselves pheromonal, but their prime function is pheromone reception. Once the babies have tear production, they tune in to population needs and die when the signal to die is given.

Ordinary oscillating room fans protect sleeping at risk infants from SIDS. You see, pheromones move about in plumes. They do not simply expand to fill a space down the concentration gradient. A plume is the minimum effective concentration of pheromone, and these can be broken up by simple electric fans stirring the air. Better ventilation for infants' rooms is a simple way to diminish the danger of SIDS.

The pathology observed in the lungs of victims on autopsy is, of course, consistent with this hypothesis, too.

The reason no one has ever figured this out besides me is well ... Read all about pheromones in one of the books and journal articles that I've written on the subject:

Nicholson, B. 1984;  Does kissing aid human bonding by semiochemical  addiction?   British Journal  of  Dermatology  111(5):623-627.

Nicholson, B. 2011:  Of Love 2nd Edition  Textbook of medical science:  exocrinology.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1456564889

Nicholson, B. 2011: Exocrinology The Science of Love 2nd Edition Human Pheromones in Criminology, Psychiatry, and Medicine.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0051AN5XI

TogetherinParis
13th July, 2011 @ 12:52 pm PDT

This solution seems overly complicated.

A pressure sensitive mattress pad that detects pulse and breathing activity would be a more robust solution. It would not require a camera with a clear line of sight to skin. This would reduce any chance of false alarm as long as the baby stays on the pad.

phydeaux
13th July, 2011 @ 01:01 pm PDT

Having spent a week in the ICU watching my 3 month old son on a ventilator after his SIDS brush with death - and half way through that being told by the ER Physician that it might have been better that we had let him die because of likely brain damage - I can assure all of you that this is a hugely real and incredibly important area of research. If this is a practical solution (even if unproven) I would have one installed into every cot on the planet.

My son was saved by my wife suddenly waking up for no apparent reason at 5am and rushing in to check him. He wasn't breathing and was blue. We resuscitated him and called an ambulance. Eventually he came out of ICU and is now 8 years old and wonderfully normal. While telepathy or divine intervention worked for us - it doesn't for thousands of people who endure the most traumatic of all events - the loss of their child.

So keep at it guys - you will genuinely save lives!

Lee Finniear
13th July, 2011 @ 05:53 pm PDT

There are many such systems already available to be used for the purpose. If I were to just alarm the parent or wake the baby, I will never rely on a visual system. It could rather be achieved by a pulse monitor attached with the baby. A baby of this age wont mind a small pulse monitor attached to his wrist.

The monitor can be wireless and really tiny which could trigger an alarm louder enough to wake the baby.

It could even send an SMS to the doctor or the emergency service. But not just looking at the skin. There are many chances in the real world that the camera watching the baby's skin tone, misinterpret and triggers no alarm.

Ahmad Usaf
14th July, 2011 @ 01:24 am PDT

New Zealand doctors found the cause of SIDS in the early 1990s. When they presented their findings at an international SIDS symposium, they were booed off the stage. Apparently, the symposium attendees didn't want to lose their public-funded vacations to global exotic vacations under the ruse of "research symposiums".

In 1994 they implemented their solutions in New Zealand, and since 1994 there has been ZERO SIDS deaths when parents followed their guidelines. ZERO. (See http://www.thecauseofsids.com/Cause_of_SIDS_Jane_Sheppard.htm)

How many more major research universities continue to milk this health scam? How much longer are we going to keep the very simple solution from parents world-wide under the guise of propagating further "research"? How many other public crises are being perpetuated simply to keep research funding flowing (anthropogenic climate change anyone?)

Mark Petereit
14th July, 2011 @ 07:04 am PDT

Mark, thanks for posting this.

I'm expecting my second child in about two months.

I have heard that, statistically (though I can't remember where from, but I think from British cot death advice) a child re-using a mattress has a higher risk of cot death.

I'll be trying to get hold of one of these covers. I'm from NZ originally and remember well we had the highest cot death rate in the western world.

In this case, I would say, you can't argue with results. A 17 year national trial has to be compelling. It's about as absolute as you can get, so there's no excuse for opening up to the idea and trialling something so simple, and safe, elsewhere.

Established science and associated scientists, organisations and regulators often can't cope with credible scientific debate on their established views. They can be just as stuck in old thinking as any layperson, and government in big business always put themselves first, before any moral decency to protect people's health. Money and saving face are more important.

A couple of examples would be the slowness in acknowledging asbestos and tobacco risks once they started to become known.

phill
15th August, 2011 @ 07:48 am PDT

An update on my comments on Marks comments

I've have been searching for official statistics to corroborate the stats given in support of the toxic mattress theory.

The official position of authorities in NZ is not to support the theory.

I inferred that "they" was to mean New Zealand as a general population. i.e. "In 1994 they implemented their solutions". I thought it was in relation to a national program.

In fact, there is no official backing for the theory, nor acknowledgement that it has contributed to a fall in the SIDS rate in NZ.

I think the theory is plausible, but I couldn't conclude it's proven ... nor do I conclude it's disproved.

I find it hard to believe that results, as cited, could be ignored by the rest of the world, but much less so the New Zealanders themselves. Finding the cause of and a solution to something so horrible would make New Zealanders *extremely* proud, and Dr. Sprott a national hero. He'd probably end up on stamps or currency some time soon.

I'm not closing the book on this theory. As I said, I think it plausible, and it does fit all the known risk factors, but I think it's not the slam dunk that it's made out to be by it's supporters. I think a lot of the criticisms of it are very weak, though, too.

An emotive issue.

phill
17th August, 2011 @ 08:04 am PDT
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