Each year about 15 million babies are born prematurely and over one million of these babies die, making preterm birth the leading cause of infant mortality. In developed communities, these premature babies are often given a chance to thrive by spending their first days in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) of hospitals. But in many parts of the world, birth happens in a rural village far away from hospitals and it is impossible for pregnant mothers to make the trip once labor has begun.
Nearly three years ago, our team began tackling the challenge of preterm birth by developing a new type of intravaginal device that enables earlier detection of preterm birth. This “SMART Diaphragm” would use sensors to capture data about a pregnant woman’s cervix over time and transmit that data wirelessly to a cloud platform that would determine whether a woman is likely to give birth preterm. Since then, we have successfully developed more than 10 prototypes of the device and have worked with 20 women in clinical studies who have graciously given us permission to track them throughout pregnancy using our device. More