Sep 12, 2012 at 02:52pm IST

Portable incubators in 4 states a new lease of life for babies

Bangalore: Portable incubators are providing a new lease of life to hundreds of newborns. Priced at a reasonable Rs 15,000, these incubators have been installed in hundreds of hospitals and ambulances across four states. A woman, Katyayini gave a premature birth to a child, who weighed 1.4 kg. The doctors advised the 23-year-old mother to keep the baby in an incubator till he gained weight. "He sleeps well in this and his weight has improved," Katyayini says.

Fifteen per cent of the babies born in India are grossly underweight. At the government-run Vani Vilas hospital, almost 30 per cent babies weigh less than 600 grams and the portable incubator, backed with a lining of high precision wax that keeps temperature at a stable 37 degrees, has been a life-saver.

Embrace Innovations Co-founder Rahul Panicker says, "If they're not provided warmth, a minority of them die. The vast majority of them grow up to have a life long illnesses. Low birth weight babies are known to have chances of early onset of diabetes, heart disease, low IQ and so on and we're talking about one-third of our population who is potentially growing up this way and we want to do something about that."

The portable incubator, aptly named 'Émbrace Nest', was originally conceived by four students at Stanford. The idea led to a 60-member company to manufacture it. Today, these incubators are saving little hearts in hundreds of hospitals and ambulances across the four southern states.

These warmers can keep babies warm for four to six hours at a stretch and take about an hour to be recharged. While it's now used in hospitals, efforts are also on to make a similar warmer that one can take home with their baby, once other health parameters are fine.

Small hospitals in remote areas of rural Karnataka have begun using these warmers which are being improvised to meet their needs.

Embrace Innovations Co-Founder Naganand Murty says, "The sad part is today a lot of devices and health care technologies that we use end up being cheaper, dumbed-down imitations of what's already being developed in the US and that's absolutely not the way to go about it. What you really need to do is look at the problem at the ground. What happened with this product is, I can hold the baby, it's right next to me. I feel like I'm empowered to do something and that's what we're trying to go for with this product."