Low-cost smart incubator with telemedicine capability for low birth weight infant development

University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Organization Location: 
Baltimore, Maryland
Malnutrition is a serious developmental problem in low-resource settings. “Simply put,this is how it works. A newborn with low birth weight (less than 2.5 kg) has a high risk of dying in early infancy. On survival,deprivation of colostrum, a rich source of nutrients and the first administration of antibodies for developing immunity increases the neonate’s risk to infection. Lack of exclusive breast feeding for the first six months, delayed and inadequate complementary feeding beyond 6 months further stunts growth.  Complementary food prepared in an unhygienic environment leads to infections and diarrhoea. Poverty, lack of information and superstition are factors that can account for these negative nutritional practices.” (http://karnutmission.org/ChronicMalnutritionTrapped2Cycles.html) We propose to break the above vicious cycle, starting at birth with this low cost, low risk, high impact project. We will use a previously developed novel, low-cost incubator and add built in sensors for infant weight and image reporting via a cellular modem interface. Our system comprises 1. Low-cost  2. Off-grid capable operation with solar chargeable battery 3. Integrated camera and  weight sensors automatically reporting data via a cellular modem. Health authorities can remotely track baby weight and intervene as needed. Our end point determination will be made based on weight gain experienced by the babies in 12 weeks in the incubators versus a control group.