Great support for little heroes – World Prematurity Day

According to the WHO, 15 million babies are born too soon every year and over one million die due to complications of preterm birth – most of them in developing countries. To help premature babies survive their first fight in life, simple yet effective solutions are needed. Three major risks for babies, especially for those who are preterm, are hypothermia, missing professional support and the lack of information.

Especially in infants, hypothermia can quickly occur because they are not yet able to produce their own heat through active body movement or cold shivering. In addition, the relationship between the skin surface and the rest of the body is much greater than in adults. A baby is hypothermic when its core body temperature falls below 35 degrees Celsius. The critical mark is around 30 degrees. Low body temperature is attributed to many factors such as a cold environment, infections, nutritional deficiencies or neurological issues. The consequences of hypothermia can include retarded growth, poor organ development, and even death.

A wristband as a lifesaver

In developed countries, regular temperature monitoring is the standard of care. But in developing countries they often don’t have the resources for checking the temperature in hospitals. Furthermore, uneducated mothers are unable to read thermometers to watch after their babies’ temperature at home.

empowering people. Award winner BEMPU is a social enterprise based in India that tries to change this with the help of simple temperature monitoring wristbands for new-born babies. Once an infant starts becoming hypothermic, the body conserves heat by restricting the blood flow to the arms and legs. This causes the limbs to become significantly colder which BEMPU uses as an early detection sign of hypothermia. The intuitive device alerts the mother so she can warm her baby, which in itself prevents further hypothermia.

Professional help

Skin-to-skin contact, warm and dry cloths, warmed up blankets and baby hats help to get the body temperature up again. But what if this doesn’t help? Many mothers in rural regions have no opportunity to reach a hospital in a short time and can do nothing more for their baby than hope that it will get better. The social enterprise GiftedMom bridges the gap in transport using last mile mobile health solutions. With the help of a smartphone app, a woman in an emergency situation can alert the curative GPS Tricycle Transport of GiftedMom, which is adapted for rural areas. Once notified, the GPS Tricycle Transport system takes her to a health centre for treatment. As the app provides mapping and location details even for rural areas, it is able to calculate distances between tricycle and intervention zone – even without internet access. The tricycles are equipped with beds and another seat for a companion or health personnel.

GiftedMom has also integrated a customized SMS notification and voice education platform that provides antenatal care and vaccination reminders to pregnant women and new mothers respectively. In the following video, the founders of GiftedMom talk extensively about their solution.