FSU Professor's Patented Pacifier Set for Production
Jayne Standley is proof that patience is a virtue. Ten years ago, the longtime researcher and professor in Florida State University's College of Music created a unique pacifier for premature infants that uses lullabies to teach them how to feed themselves. Her device, called a Pacifier Activated Lullaby, was patented by FSU and approved by the Federal Drug Administration. But other than the five PALs Standley helped make, which are in use at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare and Florida Hospital in Orlando, the device has yet to go into full-scale production. That appears to be changing, though, thanks to a $200,000 state grant that will help fund a company to make the pacifier. The grant was one of more than a dozen announced on Friday by the Board of Governors using a $2-million fund approved by the Legislature. "I'm very excited after 10 years. I'm hoping this may be the breakthrough," Standley said. "I think it will be very important to the premature babies. This is a problem all over the world." Premature babies come into the world with numerous issues. One of them is an inability to feed by mouth before they are 34 weeks old. While feeding and intravenous tubes are effective means of nourishing a 24-week-old newborn, they don't encourage the infant to develop a rooting or sucking reflex. Standley's pacifier has a closed-air system so that when the baby sucks, it immediately hears a lullaby for 10 seconds. The baby quickly learns it can keep the music on constantly if it continues to suck, and a lifelong skill is learned, according to Miriam Hillmer, director of the music therapy program at TMH. "It's really interesting to watch. The babies learn really quickly that they need to do something and it doesn't take very long for them to figure it out," said Hillmer, who used TMH's lone PAL® as recently as Monday. "We could use more," she added. "We almost always have a referral for a baby to use it." Jack Sams, executive director of licensing in FSU's Office of Intellectual Development and Transfer, said it was a matter of finding the right company to produce the PAL®. Powers Device Technologies, based in Jacksonville, will make the PALs. Standley's device can play the infant's mother's voice, if desired. It's also set up to play Hispanic lullabies or other culturally appropriate music. One thing has changed during the past decade, however. Standley designed the PAL® to work with a CD player. The new version will be made with MP3 technology.