Purdue University https://www,purdue.edu researchers are developing an app plus wearable technology to enable pregnant women to use a smartphone to detect whether they have or are susceptible to a condition that could lead to serious health complications for them or their unborn child.
Dr. Craig Goergen, Assistant Professor in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering https://engineering.purdue.edu/BME, is developing a low cost automated early detection sensor for preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication caused by high blood pressure.
The research team is working to combine available existing technologies such as smartphones, a conventional inflatable blood pressure cuff, and a wireless accelerometer to build an innovative prototype that will detect preeclampsia before it develops.
This device uses the supine pressor test to measure whether a woman’s blood pressure increases when she changes position from lying on her left side to lying on her back. If the diastolic pressure increases enough, it is a warning sign that this woman is susceptible to preeclampsia. Goergen said, “This is a device that women are going to be able to use at home with a minimal amount of training.”
Women will send the results to a doctor’s office, a healthcare system, or a centralized network for the results to be read. If there is a problem, counseling will be provided so they can be advised on how to work along with their doctors to manage and treat the preeclampsia.
Purdue received a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation https://www.gatesfoundation.org last November. The Gates Foundation is particularly interested in detecting, treating, and managing preeclampsia in sub-Saharan Africa, India, China and other developing countries.
While the Gates Foundation’s goal is to help women in developing countries, Purdue researchers are working on the device to help pregnant women in inner cities and rural areas of the U.S but also in developing countries.
The research team will initially test the device on low and middle income women in and around Indianapolis once the researchers receive the necessary institutional approval. The Purdue team is looking to partner with companies with technological expertise as the team works to further develop the technology.