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UCR Students Invent Diaper Pad That Detects Infection, Other Medical Conditions

RIVERSIDE ( — Apple's new products announced Tuesday may prompt fans to wait in lines for days to spend hundreds of dollars, but a creation by a team of UC Riverside engineering students could potentially save lives around the world.

A team of UC Riverside students from the Bourns College of Engineering created an inexpensive pad that can be inserted into diaper to detect dehydration and bacterial infections in infants. The pad, called "The Diaper Detective," operates much like a home pregnancy test or urine test strip, with chemical indicators that change color when they come into contact with urine from an infant suffering from dehydration or bacterial infection.

The Diaper Detective is 2.5 by 5 inches, doesn't require electricity, cold storage or an advanced education to interpret, is customizable so that it can detect other medical conditions and can be adapted to be used in adult diapers. Best of all – it costs 34 cents to make.

The innovative pad recently won a third place award and $10,000 at the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Engineering Design by Biomedical Undergraduate Teams Challenge. The team has also submitted the product to the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance BMEStart competition.

The students have a patent pending on their concept and are in talks with industry about potentially commercializing the product, according to UCR officials.

The students who created the Diaper Detective hope it will address the worldwide problem of infant mortality in developing nations. Of the estimated 3.9 million annual neonatal deaths, 98 percent happen in developing countries and could be prevented with access to low cost, point-of-care diagnostics, UCR officials said.

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