Toddler Diabetes Test: New Pacifier Tracks Sugar Levels In Real Time

It may soon be easier for parents to monitor the blood sugar levels of their babies. A new pacifier with biosensors has been developed to detect and track diabetes in babies using only their saliva. 

The new toddler diabetes test, described in the journal Analytical Chemistry, promises to monitor glucose levels in real time. Researchers said the device offers a safe and easy way to diagnose diabetes in the smallest of patients.

To date, available methods that can continuously monitor sugar levels in newborns are only used in hospitals. They commonly require piercing the infant's skin to reach interstitial fluid, which can be difficult for both the parents and the child. 

The researchers wanted to eliminate the need to go to hospitals regularly and the possibly painful process to get samples from babies for diabetes monitoring. The team created a “baby-friendly biosensor” that appears like a typical pacifier.

Unlike other diabetes tests, babies can enjoy using the device while it analyzes their saliva for biomarkers. The nipple of the diabetes monitoring pacifier contains an enzyme attached to an electrode strip that converts glucose to a weak electrical signal. 

The device can be connected to a phone app for parents to monitor their babies’ condition anytime and at any place. The researchers tested the pacifier with adults with type 1 diabetes. 

Results showed that the device was able to accurately detect changes in sugar levels in the patients' saliva before and after a meal. The team said they have yet to test the pacifier with babies. 

Problems With Wearable Tech

Majority of available wearable tools designed to monitor health and fitness are bulky and have rigid surfaces. Researchers said these features could harm infants' delicate skin. 

There are also biosensors attached to clothing or stuck to the skin to be lighter and easier to use. However, the problem with these devices is that long-term use could cause discomfort in infants.

The researchers hope their new pacifier may soon improve how parents and healthcare providers observe the conditions of babies. They added the device may not only work as a toddler diabetes test since it can be modified for other diseases biomarkers.

Pacifier Biosensor A pacifier biosensor could someday be used to non-invasively monitor glucose in the saliva of infants. Analytical Chemistry 2019, DOI: 10.1021/acs.analchem.9b03379