Infant Warmer Project: An Inexpensive, Re-Usable, Non-Electric Innovation for Neonatal Care

Children's Hospital Corporation
Organization Location: 
Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Hypothermia contributes to approx. 40% of the 2.9 million annual neonatal deaths (Darmstadt GL, et al., Health Policy and Planning 2008;23:101-117) that occur largely in low-income countries. This project will address neonatal hypothermia in resource-limited settings with an easy-to-use, electricity-free, inexpensive, reusable complement to Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC). Incubators and warming tables are expensive, difficult to use and to clean, and require electricity. KMC is ideal but occasionally insufficient or unavailable and needs a complementary option.

This approach is a simple medical device: a heating pad made of phase change material that stays at skin temperature for 6 hours that can be used as an addition or alternative to KMC. The Children’s Hospital Corporation is pilot testing the warmer in Rwanda; after enrolling the first 102 patients, the project reported 93% efficacy in achieving and maintaining euthermia, 85% of the warmers maintained goal temperature for at least 4 hours, and there were zero adverse events. The response from mothers and care providers has been enthusiastic. This project seeks to scale the warmer to half (20) of the district hospitals in Rwanda by finalizing the design and manufacturing, providing trainings and supervision and collecting data on use and impact.