A "Smart Diaphragm" for the Early Detection of Preterm Labor

Investigator: Larry Rand, MD
Sponsor: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Location(s): United States


Larry Rand and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco in the U.S. will develop a vaginal diaphragm to detect changes in cervical collagen and wirelessly alert health providers before preterm labor begins. This device would identify a new pre-labor "window" during which intervention could reduce mortality and disability resulting from preterm birth among at-risk pregnant women. In Phase I, they designed an easy to use and low-cost device incorporating electrical impedance detection circuitry and fiber optic cable to accurately measure collagen concentration in the cervix of pregnant women over time. Prototypes were built for clinical tests to evaluate the capacity for identifying pregnant women at risk of preterm birth, as well as comfort and acceptability. In Phase II they will optimize the device to make it more robust and user-friendly and expand clinical testing to rural settings in South Africa. They will also develop phone-to-cloud technology for wirelessly collecting the measurements from the device through a mobile phone to a server (cloud) for analysis, and to enable return of the prognosis.