Apple buys health startup to create a system to help parents track their kids’ breathing

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Apple is continuing its move into the healthcare space by acquiring a small health tech start-up that is developing an app to help parents monitor asthma symptoms in their children while they sleep. 

Tueo Health has been working on app that connected to breathing sensors placed under a child’s mattress, reported CNBC.

If breathing changed during the course of the night – such as coughing or wheezing – the app alerts parents with a notification.

It’s unclear how much the tech giant paid for Tueo Health, and Apple has declined comment to several outlets on the deal.

The move comes on the heels of the Apple Watch’s newest features, such as being able to perform an electrocardiogram, and the reported overhaul of its Health app to include menstrual cycle tracking.

‘I think it’s great they’re getting involved in this space because asthma is the most common disease that affects all ages,’ Dr Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist with the Global Allergy and Asthma Patient Platform, told DailyMail.com

‘We still have 10 deaths every day from asthma. People don’t understand how severe asthma is.’ 

Currently, 8.4 percent of US children and 7.7 of adults have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This means that approximately one in 13 Americans has the disease. 

Asthma occurs when a person’s airways become inflamed and narrow, as well as produce extra mucus, which makes it difficult to breathe. 

The condition is treated with either long-term medications or quick-relief inhalers, which contain a medication to open up the airways.

Dr Parikh says one benefit of the app is that children with asthma can sleep away from home without parents being fearful of their health. 

‘If child is away from home, like at sleepaway camp, at least [parents]are aware from it and can alert somebody,’ she said. 

Her biggest concern is that the app might over-report symptoms or be overly sensitive.

‘It’s better than the parents not knowing,’ she said. ‘I would take false alarm over days going by and the child getting worse and the parents have no idea.’

She adds that it’s important for parents to speak with a physician before downloading and using the app for their asthmatic child.

‘A lot of people don’t realize what the signs of asthma are,’ Dr Parikh said. ‘They might not understand what the alerts mean, so it’s important to speak to a doctor first.’ 

Dr Parikh warns parents that if they hear their children coughing or complaining of chest pain or shortness of breath during the night, these are signs that their asthma is ‘out of control’.

‘If asthma is controlled, a child shouldn’t be waking up at all,’ she said. ‘Have them take their quick relief medication and, if that doesn’t work, take them to the emergency room.’

Over the last few years, Apple has been focusing on improving its hold in the healthcare market.

In 2016, Apple acquired health data startup Gliimpse and, in 2017, it purchased sleep tracking company Beddit.

Additionally, the Apple Watch’s latest features include being able to perform an electrocardiogram and detecting when someone wearing the watch falls.

Bloomberg reported that Apple is overhauling its Health app, which will include a section on ‘hearing health’, menstrual cycle tracking and birth control pill reminders.

Apple CEO Tim Cook hasn’t played down the health ambitions and focus of the company either.

‘I believe, if you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question: “What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind,” it will be about health,’ Cook said in an interview on CNBC’s Mad Money in January 2019. 

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