IncuBlanket in the Journal of Tropical Medicine
Here’s a throwback to our first publication in a peer-reviewed journal, the Journal of Tropical Medicine. One of the researchers, Meg Wirth, manages Maternova and learning and sharing innovations in infant and maternal healthcare. With Thairu and Lunze, the team assess many medical devices designed for newborns in the developing world and in January 2013, found most of them to be under development or in the early stages of production, but the vast majority of them are not available when and where they are needed. They conclude that making them [medical devices designed for newborns in the developing world] available to mothers, newborns, and birth attendants in resource-limited countries at the time and place of birth will require innovative and creative production, distribution, and implementation approaches.
Reviewing this article made us reflect and think about the past almost 7 years of Warmilu and how we developed our infant warming incubator blankets, IncuBlankets, and US-patented non-electric warming packs (InstaWarmers). We had to meet in person, rolling up our sleeves, in hospitals with doctors, nurses, county health officials, and government health officials and advocates to learn about the challenges on the ground warming infants in addition to other critical challenges for infants and moms including breastfeeding, resuscitation, hypertension, nutrition, and having access to postpartum care. We made sure to go to medical dispensaries and to hop on the phone with NGOs and non-profit private hospitals to learn about some of their challenges with distribution and then partner with medical device distributors. The IncuBlanket was clinically validated in a trial at the Kempegowda Institute of Medical Sciences (Bangalore India, January-March 2013) with neonatologist Dr. Ranjan Pejaver. The IncuBlanket kept 20 low birthweight, preterm infants warm between 36.4–37.5°C. (97.5–99.5°F) for 5 hours and prevented hypothermia. Average weight of the infants was 1.75 kg (range 1.3-2.4 kg) and average gestational age 35.25 weeks (range 31-38 weeks) for 10 boys and 10 girls. There was no case of overheating, skin rashes, or erythema of significance noticed during or immediately after the study period.
And from 2013 onwards, we honed in and continued to refine the design. We worked with doctors, neonatologists specifically, in Kenya, the US, India, Pakistan, and Uganda to hone in on the best design – like making sure our flaps could open up easily for heel pricks – and target the ideal thermal profile. We had to re-size our blankets for our different applications in warming (prehospital, intrahospital, and operating room) and innovate in our fabric assembly to make it a wipable product for easy reprocessing. After the clinical trial, we have been deployed in 10 hospitals through 5 medical device distributors to warm infants and serve healthcare practitioners in 7 countries. We continue to be so thankful for all those who meet with us wherever we go around the globe to learn about infant warming and Warmilu. Thank you everyone, at every single global symposium and summit sponsored by infant and maternal health champions, for meeting with us to share your challenges in infant and maternal care! Specifically, thank you Dr. Ranjan Pejaver, Relief for Africa Foundation’s Rama and Caleb, Walter, Maternova, Dr. Leah, Dr. Lawrence, IRD Pakistan, Dr. Ali, Kybele, and Zona Pakistan and Ibrahim for being there for Warmilu and helping us warm infants around the globe! Thank you working with Warmilu to brainstorm innovative and creative production, distribution, and implementation approaches.