?In the early 20th
century, premature birth was among the highest causes of infant mortality. In
1925, 36% of all infant deaths were related to premature birth.
?Dr. Étienne Stéphane
Tarnier, having witnessed
the benefits of heating chambers for poultry at the
Paris Zoo, decided to build
a similar apparatus for
premature babies he was
treating. His incubators solved the often fatal issue of thermoregulation (maintaining body
the normal range) which
many premature babies
?He was convinced,
despite facing scepticism that the Tarnier incubators would aid many infant
lives and he enlisted the help of an associate, Dr. Martin Couney, in
exhibiting his creation at the World Exposition in Berlin in 1896.
?A German hospital
loaned them a number of premature infants, which the hospital had
already concluded would not survive. Couney, using this technology was able to recuperate each of the infants’
lives as the audiences watched.
eventually made its way to Coney
Island in the US where parents of premature babies would seek help from these
incubators and others would pay to watch the process take place.
?The main function of a neonatal incubator is to enclose the infant with a few of the environmental
conditions usually supplied in the uterus until
they get to approximately the
level of development of a full-term infant.
?An incubator helps to
shield the infant from noise, dust and
?A temperature sensor is
taped to the baby’s skin, and the heater adjusts to maintain the baby at a
constant temperature between 35.5° and 36.6°C.
?Underneath the baby is an
air-blown electric heating system and humidification system which circulates
heated humid air at a desired temperature and humidity through the incubator
?Humidity is normally kept at
50 to 60% unless there is respiratory difficulty, in which case the humidity
may be raised as high as 85 to 100%. ?Oxygen is also added
in concentrations not exceeding 30 to 40% only as long as the infant is
cyanotic(the bluish or purplish discolouration of the skin or mucous membranes
due to the tissues near the skin surface having low oxygen saturation).Advantages
?It provides the closest environment to that of the
?Temperature at a uniform airflow and the Humidity can be
controlled to the desired level
?It protects the baby from infection and all outside noise.
?As the baby lies in a closed hood it is difficult to
access the baby for medical procedure or care. (ACT, 1958)
?Retrolental fibroplasias (abnormal production of fibrous
tissue directly behind the lens of the eye, leading to blindness) can occur
with high concentrations of oxygen for a prolonged amount of time.
This allows for MRI use for premature babies and those
With low or extremely low body
weight. This is necessary to
gauge the extent of changes in the
central nervous system
and other organs. Incubator
coils, designed specifically for
neonates, allow very accurate
diagnosis, the results allow
for more accurate planning
of diagnostics. ?Another new feature which can
be added most recently to
incubators is solar powered heating. This is currently done with an electric
?These are particularly
useful in rural areas with unpredictable supply of electricity. India’s power
sector continues to play an important role in the country’s overall development.
?The Central Electricity
Authority statistics predict energy shortages in the coming years, and
therefore, developing alternative sources of energy for healthcare would be appropriate here.
?Bilirubin is a yellow
made when the body breaks down old
Red blood cells.
?Jaundice occurs when an
infant’s body has more bilirubin than it can get rid of.
?It occurs most often in babies
born before 38 weeks gestation (premature babies) and some breast-fed babies.
?Infant jaundice usually
occurs because a baby’s liver isn’t mature enough to remove the bilirubin in
?Complications of infant jaundice
are rare, however a high bilirubin level associated with severe infant jaundice
or inadequately treated jaundice may cause brain damage.?Treatment of infant
jaundice isn’t always necessary, and is usually treated non-invasively.
?A phototherapy light
box can be used to treat and this.
?The best prevention
of infant jaundice is sufficient feeding. Breast-fed infants should have eight
to 12 feedings a day for the first several days of life. Formula-fed infants usually should have 1
to 2 ounces (about 30 to 60 ml) of formula every 2 – 3 hours for the first
placing the baby under a specific
light wavelength to help the
body break down the
bilirubin and pass it out of the body.
?During phototherapy the baby
is placed on his or her back within the incubator unless they have other
conditions that prevent this.
?The infant is given
eye protection and their temperature is monitored to ensure he or she stays hydrated.
?The treatment may be
stopped from time to time for up to 30 minutes so you can hold, feed and change them. The level of bilirubin in
the infant’s blood will be checked with a blood test every 4–6 hours during
phototherapy to assess if the treatment is working.
?Once the levels of
bilirubin become stable or fall, they will then be checked every 6–12 hours.
Phototherapy can be stopped once jaundice is healed but the infant will need
another blood test 12–18 hours later to ensure the jaundice has not returned to
a level that would need further treatment.
?Baby incubators for
moving premature babies are heavy, they require an external electricity supply
and often dedicated vehicles to carry them as well.
?’Babypod’ was developed as a
light, more practical alternative. lt is a device that weighs just 9.1kg (5-10 times lighter than
the average incubator)
and takes up very
little space. It
is currently being used by Great Ormond
Street Hospital in London.