Portable “Life and Activity Monitor” Records Vital Signs

Scientific research and studies that will advance the understanding of medicine often require patients to undergo vital statistic monitoring, including measurement and recording of heart rate, activity level, and respirations. However, monitoring such vital statistics has historically required that study participants agree to frequent office visits, or else wear large and cumbersome monitoring devices.

Researchers at Oregon State University and the University of California at San Diego have designed a miniature vital statistics monitor that is not only small — it’s about two inches wide — and inexpensive to make, but is also capable of monitoring vitals from inside a pocket.

Life and activity monitor

From Oregon State University’s press release:

“When this technology becomes more miniaturized and so low-cost that it could almost be disposable, it will see more widespread adoption,” said Patrick Chiang, an assistant professor of computer engineering at Oregon State University. “It’s already been used in one clinical research study on the effects of micronutrients on aging, and monitoring of this type should have an important future role in medicine.”

Vital statistics monitors like this one may make large-scale medical studies easier on participants and less expensive for labs to run, speeding the pace of health discovery and innovation.

Source: Oregon State University

SIDS Linked to Low Levels of Serotonin

The brains of infants who die of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) produce low levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that conveys messages between cells and plays a vital role in regulating breathing, heart rate, and sleep, reported researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health.

SIDS is the death of an infant before his or her first birthday that cannot be explained after a complete autopsy, an investigation of the scene and circumstances of the death, and a review of the medical history of the infant and of his or her family. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, SIDS is the third leading cause of infant death, claiming more than 2,300 lives in 2006.

Infant sleeping