Embrace: Caring for Preterm Infants

Saving lives with ease and warmth.

PRODUCT DESIGN I PERFORMANCE AND MANUFACTURING ENGINEERING I PRODUCTION LIAISON

The Embrace Infant Warmer

Preterm birth is the leading cause for the death of children under the age of five years. The world sees an estimated 15 million babies born before 37 weeks of gestation per annual! Moreover, nearly 1 million children under the age of five die because such births are complicated. With the Embrace Infant Warmer, ee can save almost three quarters of them!

One of the significant factors contributing to the death of preterm babies is Hypothermia i.e. abnormally low body temperatures. Unfortunately, for preterm babies, this occurs at room temperatures, which are otherwise comfortable for adults!

Infant incubators help preterm infants maintain a safe body temperature in hospitals. However, they cost thousands of dollars and require a stable source of electricity to operate. As a result, many go unused because the preterm babies who need them were often born in distant villages.

Warmth On The Go!

The founders at Embrace understood that preterm babies needed to be kept warm till they reached the hospital. They also had to ensure that heating could be accomplished without using electricity from a mains! Team Embrace used specialized temperature-regulating materials to solve this problem. These materials keep a near-constant temperature despite gaining or losing heat energy. Also known as “phase change materials”, they release heat energy which is used to keep the infant warm. As they give heat, they change from liquid to solid. To reuse them, we simply heat them to convert them to their liquid form. 

A Mother’s Embrace

At the core of the Embrace Infant Warmer, is a swaddle that cradles an infant. Embrace designed the swaddle to have two compartments: one for the baby and the other for the phase change material.

We, at Bang Design, developed the phase change materials so that they can be placed in the compartment and provide warmth to the baby. Here, we selected a phase change material that melts or solidifies around normal human body temperature. With this technology, the baby will feel the same warmth as it would in its mother’s embrace! Another bonus? The liquid form of the phase change material makes the baby feel as if it’s sleeping on a water bed.

We designed a heater that could uniformly heat to 38°C and added a sensor that calculates the temperature accurately. The sensor gives the ‘go ahead’ when the heating element is ready to use. The heating element can then be put into the swaddle, and heat is transmitted to the baby for an hour. While one element keeps the baby warm, another can be put into the warmer. The heating elements can be used in a cyclic nature until the baby reaches a hospital.

Embrace has tied up with GE Healthcare and provided their Infant Warmers to over 200,000 low birth weight and premature infants across 20 countries in the developing world. Today, Embrace Infant Warmers are manufactured by Phoenix Medical Systems in India and are available for a small fraction of the cost of standard incubators.

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