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Last December, Elisha Palmer’s 3-month-old son, Knox, died in his sleep. The cause of death was determined to be Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a terrifying and inexplicable occurrence that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says is the leading cause of death among infants 1 to 12 months old. Now, Palmer is trying to ensure that no mother has to suffer the way she did. She is leading the charge to get high-tech baby monitors that alert parents if baby stops breathing to as many families as possible.
That’s how the Knox Blocks Foundation came to be: As Palmer did more research into these devices that monitor babies’ heart rates and breathing, she realized there had to be a way to not only raise awareness and money for research, but to give other parents the chance to have a monitor that might have saved Knox’s life.
“He was completely healthy. He just went down for a nap and didn’t wake up,” Palmer told People magazine. “There was nothing that would have been a red flag. We did everything we were supposed to do.”
Knox Blocks is trying to get as many babies as possible outfitted with the Owlet Smart Sock, a futuristic device that tracks your baby’s pulse and oxygen levels and transmits the data to a monitor. Priced at $300, the product is expensive, and those who can’t afford one are encouraged to fill out an application on the Knox Blocks website to receive a donated device.
The foundation had already raised $33,000 before Owlet heard of the work they were doing. Touched by the Palmers’ story, the company agreed to match dollar-for-dollar the funds raised by Knox Blocks. Together, they’ve donated 100 monitors.
So, does your infant need one of these high-tech monitors? Some doctors say no. According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, these devices have not been subjected to peer-reviewed research or been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration, so there’s no proof that they are accurate.
And in the case of one terrified couple, a sock alarm made them rush their 4-week-old infant to the emergency room, where he was hospitalized for 24 hours, despite doctors being unable to find anything wrong with the baby. The baby was subjected to bloodwork, an EKG and 24 hours of heart-rate and oxygen monitoring, none of which revealed any medical issues. Finally, a day later, the infant was cleared to go home.
“The child was completely fine, but those 24 hours were very nerve-racking for the parents,” Victoria Rodriguez, a pediatric hospitalist at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, told the Tribune.
And it should be noted that the American Academy of Pediatrics, in its SIDS prevention guidelines warns, “Do not use home cardiorespiratory monitors as a strategy to reduce the risk of SIDS.”
Just know that the manufacturers of these high-tech baby monitors don’t claim to prevent SIDS or other sleep-associated deaths in infants. They claim to offer “peace of mind” for parents and caregivers. So, would you buy one? Or will you stick with the old-school monitors?