Device to Help Newborns Who Have Trouble Breathing


A new device can be useful for newborn babies who have asphyxia and to those that uses manual resuscitators to revive the baby. / Photo by: Rafael Ben-Ari via 123rf


Complications during birth is nothing new, with many of these stemming from issues encountered with the mother or the hygiene of the area the child was birthed in. Although these are addressed with better systems, equipment, and trained medical professionals, many countries still do not have access to top-level equipment to save children's lives. A new device was created to help infants suffering from breathing distress, with or without the need for special rooms and expensive procedures.

This device, called the Augmented Infant Resuscitator, is a direct response to one of the major causes of neonatal death, that of birth asphyxia, wherein a baby cannot breathe on its own at birth. There are many issues that cause this, ranging from underdevelopment to even infection. Sometimes, it's difficult for doctors to diagnose the real cause. This new device was created through a partnership between Philips, and a team composed of researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital, the Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Uganda, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their main goal was to be able to successfully and safely resuscitate suffocated or asphyxiated newborns. The device accomplishes this task by measuring and helping to regulate the airflow that is delivered to the baby when it is born. This device can also connect to all brands of manual bag-valve-mask resuscitators, to reduce the risk of incompatibility. The team predicts that this device will greatly benefit those from  resource-poor areas, where manual efforts to revive babies are often times unsuccessful. These manual resuscitators either give the baby too much air or too little, and too fast or too slow. This device finds the perfect amount to be provided to each baby, by measuring the airflow to the chest and the pressure it receives from it.

The device is expected to save many lives, once it is deemed safe enough to be released to the general public. This will especially help people in poorer areas such as Kenya, where neonatal deaths are reportedly 22 in every 1,000 births.