Box of life

The Asian Age.

Life, More Features

Four students of mechanical engineering have developed a low-cost, portable incubator that can save lives of newborns in case of emergency.

Students and their guide with the prototype of low-cost, portable incubator.

According to WHO, infant mortality rate is a staggering 4.5 million and in India, it is 41 out of every 1,000 born. The numbers that come from places like Attapadi and other backward areas, still daunt us. Taking into account all these circumstances, the students of SCMS Engineering College, Kerala, have put forward the concept of a portable and affordable neonatal incubator.

Final year B.Tech mechanical engineering students Akhil Joseph, Akhil R. Krishna, Akshay Raj and Binu Raj have turned this concept into a fully functional prototype, which was completed under the guidance of Sijo M.T, Asst. Professor of the department. The team was also counselled by D. Newton Luiz, head Pediatrician of Dhanya Mission Hospital.

The main causes for neonatal deaths are premature birth and low birth weight. In premature neonates, hypothermia stands as the main cause of death. It is a condition in which heat is lost continually from the body.

Evaporative losses are compensated by humidity control inside the units. Also high bilirubin levels lead to jaundice, if left unattended.

The two systems that are in use for the control and monitoring of the above stated parameters are: incubator and radiant warmer. While incubators can be costly, radiant warmers are cheap, but provide only temperature regulation. In cases of neonatal emergencies, incubators are still in use. But the hefty price tag makes them inaccessible. Equipment, which monitors pulse rate and blood oxygen levels, act as separate units and also bear additional costs.

The incubator the students fabricated comes under a price range of Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000. It also includes real time pulse rate and blood oxygen level monitoring system. The incubator has a GSM module that sends out temperature and humidity values along with pulse rate and blood oxygen levels at regular intervals to a predefined mobile number. It can also send distress messages at times of a hike or drop in any values. It also comes with a phototherapy unit for jaundice treatment.

The incubator can be transformed into a box-like structure with a few adjustments which takes up less space. With all these taken in to account, this incubator can have a great impact in the health sector.