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Kylie McConville

New App Sends Baby’s Health Info Straight Into Cyberspace — Have We Gone Too Far?

PUBLISHED ON 07/11/2013

Been wondering just what is going on with baby's pee? Wonder no more!

A new company, Pixie Scientific, has developed a diaper that can detect possible urinary tract infections, kidney dysfunctions and dehydrations all through your smartphone. The app then lets you transmit the information straight to baby's doctor.

Pixie founder Yaroslav Faybishenko said, "I was driving with my wife and daughter one day, when my wife asked if the baby had wet herself. I realized that she was sitting data." Thats, err, one way to look at it, I guess.

Here's how it works: at the front of the diaper there's a patch with several colored squares. Each one of the squares represents a different interaction with a protein, water content and/or bacteria that changes color if it detects something outside of its normal parameters. There's also a neutral white square to help parents check for color changes against other squares (so there's less confusion about what color is which and what that means).

From there, a smartphone app takes a picture and can actually make precise readings of chemical data based on the color changes found on the diaper. The data is then uploaded to a central location where physicians get information about how the child is doing and whether the baby needs further testing.

Though it's not on the market yet, the diaper will be tested at Benioff Children's Hospital of the University of California, San Francisco in September of 2013. If all goes well, the product could go straight to the FDA for approval.

Apparently, Faybishenko believes that the diaper has the potential to be marketed to parents who want to keep regular tabs on their child's heath. He doesn't think of the product as overwhelming for parents because it's a good indicator of whether or not they should take their child to see a pediatrician depending on what's detected in their pee. He expects the cost of these high-tech diapers will be just about 30 percent more than regular diapers.

Is it just me or does anyone else think this a little too WebMD? I think the whole premise of creating on-the-go materials that can soothe a parent's fears is a great tool to have but I just think this goes a little overboard. It's sort of like parenting — without parenting. A mom and dad aren't really the central fixture to a baby's needs anymore. Now, you're just a vehicle: You put the diaper on baby, hope she pees, wait for the squares to light up and send it off to some physician sitting in a dark room with his eyes glued to the computer.

Which, leads me to another question. Just who is the physician? Will he know your child's medical history? Will he be familiar with your child? Or will be just be making a blind assessment on what's happening to your baby based on which squares light up when he pees? Not sure if parents will like the idea of their child's information being sent off into cyberspace where they don't even know the doctor. (I, for one, don't know if like that. It's too To Catch a Predator for me, no?)

More importantly, I think the biggest issue I have with apps like these is that they almost promote the dissolution of a mother and father's bond with their child. The app that deciphers your baby's tears and an app that sends you a Tweet each time your kid fills up his diaper, which almost takes all the parenting out of parenting. You don't have to listen or even know what baby's crying for. Just check your app. You don't even have to physically put your hand on your babe's bum to know if it's wet. Just wait for a tweet. And if all goes according to plan and the Pixie Scientific app gets the go-ahead, you won't even need to pay attention to your baby's heath. Just wait for the Creep in the Dark Room to take care of it.

Do you think these apps have gone too far? Or do you think you'll use them?

PHOTO: Photo Courtesy of Pixie Scientific