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Students Create Diaper Pad to Detect Infection in Babies

September 11, 2014 2 min read

“The Diaper Detective” is not a new TV show about a diaper-donning detective, nor is it a job description for someone who closely examines stool. It’s actually a small pad that’s inserted into diapers to determine if babies are dehydrated or have a bacterial infection.

Developed by a group of University of California, Riverside students from the Bourns College of Engineering, the patent-pending Diaper Detective uses chemical indicators that change colors – similar to a home pregnancy test – to show if the infant is in distress and in need of medical attention. The lateral flow channels that guide the urine are made with paraffin wax and a laser printer.

The small pad (2.5 by 5 inches) only costs 34 cents to make and can be customized to detect other medical ailments. Electricity is not required, nor does the pad need to be stored in specific temperatures. The pad can also be modified for use in adult diapers, a potential game-changer for the nursing home population.

“We created this to fulfill a need for a versatile, inexpensive, non-invasive method of urine collection in developing countries and elsewhere,” said team member Veronica Boulos. “The beauty of this is that is solves a huge problem with simplicity.”

The team plans to partner with relief organizations to distribute their creation to developing countries, in hopes to decrease infant mortality. The team is also working on getting the pad covered by insurance to help low-income families.

The Diaper Detective creators include bioengineering majors Boulos, Melissa Cruz, Sara Said, Stephanie Tehseldar and Claire Tran. The pad recently won an award, which included a $10,000 prize at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Engineering Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams Challenge.


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