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Why is paediatric medical technology stuck in the stone age?

There is no such thing as a baby pacemaker. For children with an irregular heartbeat, the only option is an adult device. That’s why when baby Sarah was born with a heart defect; she had an adult pacemaker wedged into her stomach because there wasn’t enough room in her chest. As her body grows, she will face years of surgeries, as the adult device requires replacement or modification. Do we really want to be putting our children through this unnecessary pain?

Joining the modern world of medical technology advancements has always been a challenge for this particular patient group. In a way, children are victims of their own circumstance: They are outnumbered by adults and generally blessed with good health! These differences make it challenging for children to attract attention from medical device companies.

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Because of this, paediatric medical device development is approximately 10 years behind adult device development; but who is doing something about it? Well, this problem is currently tackled by non-profit organisations and through grants from the FDA. "We recognize the unique health needs of children, and we're committed to encouraging the development of medical devices designed specifically for paediatric patients," stated the FDA Commissioner. As a result of FDA grants, there are now 19 paediatric medical devices available on the market!

Paediatrics is a growing area, and the emerging market trends confirm this. The Global Paediatric medical device market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.5% from 2017 to 2023, with powerful MedTech companies such as Stryker and Medtronic looking to expand their portfolio of paediatric medical devices. So there is no doubt that the paediatric technology sector is full of challenges, but as Throdahl once said, great challenges beget great rewards! If you ask the Strykers of the world if paediatric technology is of interest to them, the answer is going to be yes. Paediatrics is on the list, it just hasn’t yet bubbled up to the top.

At KidMedTech we are striving to eradicate challenges surrounding paediatric clinical trials. We aim to create a product that helps MedTech companies who want to recruit paediatric patients for clinical trials, by effectively identifying suitable candidates from a digital database. If you are an expert in this field, we want to hear from you; Please visit our website or drop us an email and let us know what you think. After all, is there anything more important than the health of our children?

This blog is written by Kate Mockler from the KidMedTech team and edited by Ellen Le Bas. KidMedTech is part of the 2018 UCD Sustainability Launchpad led by UpThink in association with the UCD Energy Institute. If you have any questions about the Launchpad programme just email mary.cronin@upthink.works.

Mary Cronin