This blog post is part of a series from Dr. Ken Ward. You can learn more about Dr. Ward here.
In the decades I’ve worked in maternal and fetal medicine, I have sent at-risk babies home with hospital-grade monitors. Not only were the parents anxious and concerned for the well-being of their newborns but also worried about using the monitor correctly. Unfortunately, the hospital-grade monitors were somewhat cumbersome; large in size with multiple cords attached, and required sensor pads to be attached via adhesive backs to small little feet. Too often, false alarms occurred due to the movements of the infant, which added to the parents’ already anxious state.
The Owlet Smart Sock is a more reasonable monitor for the home setting. It has been extensively tested to validate the accuracy of the device against other oxygen and pulse monitors. The design is more appropriate for home use.
It is impossible for the baby to become entangled in monitor cables since the sock uses a wireless sensor to communicate health information to the home base.
Risks for adhesive-related skin irritations and burns from pulse oximeters monitors are minimized. The sock uses sensors (similar to those used in Fitbit® or the Apple® Watch) that use considerably less power than hospital pulse oximeters which would virtually eliminate any risk of burning the baby. The sock is held securely on the foot by straps, reducing the risk of skin irritations that can be caused by adhesives used with pulse oximeters.
False readings or false notifications are reduced because the Owlet Smart Sock can detect when the infant is moving. Owlet designed a system of notifications that differentiates between a displaced sensor and a significant decrease in a baby’s heart rate. As a result, a very high rate, 99% of Owlet Smart Sock users, have used the device without ever receiving a false notification. This is great news since it reduces the risk of overdiagnosis due to misinformation.