Healthy growth can be the difference between a carefree childhood and one filled with medical problems.
An NWU researcher is developing an automated scale that will eliminate human error and inaccuracies when it comes to weighing and measuring babies. This will play a significant role in the early detection of nutrition issues and growth stagnation in babies.
Prof Leenta Grobler, associate professor at the Faculty of Engineering, says it is a reality that in some clinics and hospitals in South Africa, inaccuracies occur in the measurement and weighing of babies and young children.
Scales are frequently moved around and not calibrated and are thus not accurate. Health workers also sometimes use different measurements methods (for example, measuring straight from head to toe or along the contours of the body).
Another concern is inadequate records and data collection. All of this can contribute to growth and malnutrition problems not being detected and corrected at an early age.
Scaling down human error
“We believe that our baby scale will make a significant contribution towards eliminating inaccuracies.
The baby scale is digital and designed to need minimal maintenance.“It is easy to use and we will integrate it with an app that will not only detect and alert the user to any problems, but also keep records automatically with the push of a button.”
The scale has gone through three development phases since Leenta started working on it nearly four years ago. The first concerned length and weight, the second head circumference and the third focused on upper-arm measurements and data collection and processing.
Leenta says they are waiting for ethical clearance and will then finalise tests. “We now need to make sure that the scale functions optimally even with a high user profile and temperature changes.”
She hopes to have the go-ahead to test the baby scale at some clinics and hospitals as early as October this year. “It will certainly make a big difference in assisting parents and health workers to measure up to boosting their babies’ health.”
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