Around 20 million low birth weight and premature babies are born each year, and roughly 450 of these die every hour, with four million dying within the first month of life.
That adds up to a lot of heartache.
What makes it sadder, is there are many minimalist interventions could drastically reduce this number. One such intervention would be to reduce the risk of hypothermia. For example, in Indian maternity wards, 80% of newborns require incubators simply to keep warm. This is because of the combined effect of being underweight and of newborns being unable to regulate their own body temperature.
But most babies in India are not born in hospitals, and your chances of finding an incubator in an impoverished Indian village are about as high as the world's wealth being shared evenly and fairly.
So, what's the next best thing to an incubator? Stanford graduates Jane Chen, Linus Liang, Dr. Rahul Panicker, and Naganand Murty would like to suggest their product, the Embrace Infant Warmer, is a good candidate.
How it worksOriginating as a concept in an Extreme Affordability class, the reusable, hypoallergenic baby wrap comes with a wax-filled pouch, and either an electric or non-electric heating unit for the pouch, all for "less than 1% of a traditional incubator." You simply heat the pouch, put it in the sleeping bag-like wrap, add the baby, and you won't need to worry about the possibility of hypothermia for at least the next four hours.
The Embrace team are working on the final stages of product development, prior to piloting it in India. And then they hope to release it throughout the developing world.
Here is aforementioned Embrace co-founder and CEO, Jane Chen, talking about the need for this product in a TED talk: