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Medicine Science

Cheap Incubator Backpack Could Reduce Infant Deaths 76

Boy Wunda writes "In just one six-month period in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2006, 96 newborn babies who were in need of medical care died before they could get help. In many developing nations, these deaths could be prevented simply by providing better ways for medical responders to transport infants properly over rough terrain and keep them alive until they can reach hospitals and clinics. Now, a group of Colorado State University seniors has designed and filed a patent for a medically equipped incubator backpack unit that they believe can reduce baby deaths in medical emergencies both in the United States and in newly industrialized nations."
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Cheap Incubator Backpack Could Reduce Infant Deaths

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  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:03PM (#32268420) Homepage

    I was hoping this would be just the ticket for helping me with my cross-border baby-smuggling operation. But the thing's transparent, kinda defeating the whole purpose of "smuggling", and it's huge but can only carry one baby!

    I'm sticking with my REI-brand frame backpack for baby smuggling. Swing and a miss, CSU. Swing and a miss.

  • by Itninja ( 937614 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:04PM (#32268428) Homepage
    Even the article say so: "We have to say that being carried skin to skin by a warm human body in a baby-carrier (aka 'kangaroo care') actually sounds a lot more humane, safe and baby-friendly for a newborn than being carried strapped to a board in a giant plastic box...But, we have to ask: wouldn't a low-tech solution of using a cloth baby-carrier on a compassionate person often be better, safer, cheaper and easier than this ginormous contraption? It's been scientifically shown that the best way to regulate the breathing and heartbeat of a newborn infant is to have that infant snuggle up, chest-to-chest, skin-to-skin with his mom or dad right after birth."

    Also, it's 2010. We don't call them 'third world countries' anymore. We call them 'developing nations'. The former is so Cold War...
    • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:11PM (#32268532)

      In a safe, controlled environment, with the necessary medical equipment and personnel available, kangaroo care is probably the way to go. That isn't the use that this device is meant for though. I understood it to be designed for transporting premature infants from remote areas to proper medical care. In other words: difficult hikes, through difficult terrain, in uncomfortably hot weather, with all the bugs, plants, and pollen that comes with it.

      • How do you get it there in the first place?
        Drop them out of an airplane as a preventive measure, say... 15 of those per square kilometer?

        This is utter nonsense.
        If you can get a doctor to the mother, you can move the baby as well. No need for backpacking.
        Unless the doctor has to get there over the remnants of a suspension bridge. And in that case, he/she is not going back the same way with the incubator on the back anyway.

        Oh... wait... this should be used if the doctor suspects, based on the ultrasound, that

    • There's a lot of truth in what you're saying about "kangaroo care" or skin-to-skin contact for newborns. It seems to be the norm just about everywhere but modern delivery rooms to place the newly arrived immediately in the mother's arms. And the average healthy newborn is a pretty hardy being, well able to cope (with help) with a lot of what's going on outside. I also know that some really stressed-out or very early preemies can't handle a lot of contact. It's too bad they can't somehow adapt the traditiona

    • We've discussed this problem in OEC (Outdoor Emergency Care) training - how to safely deliver and transport newborn infants in hostile environments. This is REALLY GREAT!

      wouldn't a low-tech solution of using a cloth baby-carrier on a compassionate person often be better, safer, cheaper and easier than this ginormous contraption?

      Under some circumstances, yes. But this is not meant for those times when you can tuck the preemie into your clothing while you walk a few hundred feet to the helicopter or ambulanc

    • Also, it's 2010. We don't call them 'third world countries' anymore. We call them 'developing nations'. The former is so Cold War...

      For some states out there, 'developing nation' is an accurate description of the place. In others, 'developing nation' is indeed a euphemism for 'backwards hellhole', and I think that 'third world' conjures up the proper mental imagery in a more polite manner.

      Meanings change, and without any sort of controlling body for the English language, a term means what it is commonly und

    • by jonadab ( 583620 )
      > We don't call them 'third world countries' anymore. We call
      > them 'developing nations'. The former is so Cold War...

      The latter is a cruel joke. I know it's considered (in the Western world) to be politically correct, but for the life of me I can't figure out why. It's much more condescending, more insulting, laced with sarcastic implications. The worst part is the bitter irony: if a country starts *actually* developing to any meaningful extent (like, say, South Korea) people quickly stop calling
  • by understress ( 85878 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:05PM (#32268432)

    While this seems like a great idea for helping babies (I'm not a doctor), why can't they just publish the idea so everyone can benefit instead of just the cities / villages / towns / areas / families / whatever that can afford to buy one? The patent part is all about making money. At the expense of dying children. No different than drug companies (and many others) in my eyes. Although I do have to say that when I was their (apparent) age, I wanted to be filthy rich and didn't see anything wrong with that. Now that I'm (supposedly) more mature (and much older), I see things like this and wonder why can't people just do some things for the good of mankind? No I'm not naive, I just don't understand human nature sometimes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Combatso ( 1793216 )
      my infant was just released from the hospital.. total cost of stay, $101,520 for 68 days... they do it for the good of mankind, so long as mankind has his Health Insuranse Plan card.
      • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @04:49PM (#32269896)

        they do it for the good of mankind, so long as mankind has his Health Insuranse Plan card

        Why are health care practitioners derided when they want to make a decent living just like the rest of us? The harsh reality is, the only reason your child got such excellent care was because you PAID for it (ok, the insurance paid, and you pay the premiums, but that's splitting hairs). Without the motivation to earn good money, the medical field would not attract the best and brightest minds, nor would we have the fantastic advances in medical advances that we enjoy now. Sure, there are altruistic folks out there who do wonderful work, but there's no way we could care for everyone without the support of a well-financed medical industry like we have now.

        Besides, by law, no one is supposed to be denied emergency medical care in the US []. Hospitals simply absorb the cost (well, in reality, they pass the cost onto paying customers) of uninsured patients who can't afford treatment. Incidentally, it's reported now that 55% of emergency care is uncompensated. []

        • by h4rr4r ( 612664 )

          Because you charge crazy high rates?
          Any reason why a doctor makes so much more than a phd?

          We honestly need to commoditize health care and offer medical school free to qualifying students. Let surplus labor drive down costs.

          • Any reason why a doctor makes so much more than a phd?

            People are willing to pay more dollars more often to have the health or life of a loved one saved than they are to listen to some boring self important blowhard dipshit.

            We honestly need to commoditize health care and offer medical school free to qualifying students. Let surplus labor drive down costs.

            _I_ don't need to do anything. There are already lots of ways _you_ can provide scholarships for qualified students to become doctors. Why aren't you?

            There are several things that make health care very expensive in this country:
            1) nobody knows what it costs, so they never comparison shop on price; they rarely refuse service because of costs. Thus, there is no incentive to control costs. There is no market, so to speak.
            2) not everybody pays, but everybody receives. That uncompensated care is paid for _somehow_
            3) Doctors have their labor union legally protected by law everywhere in the US. Want to be a doctor? All the other doctors in the US get to decide that they're willing to tolerate some competition before you're allowed to practice medicine here.

            Breaking the union stranglehold on who can practice medicine, and not requiring care providers to render care regardless of ability to pay would make medicine very affordable. The first would probably allow some people to receive lower quality care some of the time. It would also allow some people to receive higher quality care some of the time. I bet it's a net positive for both care and affordability [since providers would compete on reputation instead of on union membership].

            You would think that the latter -- removing the legal obligation to provide care -- would mean that many people would immediately start going without care, but I don't think this is the case. In the not-so-distant past, people and doctors managed to work out payment plans and there weren't epidemic die-offs due to inability to acquire "insurance".

            Essentially, the high cost of care is due to collusion between government and insurers. Remove the government involvement, and things get better.

            Of course, that's not the direction people are trying to take things...

    • Maybe because this isn't something you can just slap together. Sometimes you need financial backing and sometimes you need someone with manufacturing expertise. Like it or not, this is how the world works. I'm fairly certain if every little bit of technology we just given away, for the "good" of the people, we wouldn't have half the resources we have available today,

      • I'm not advocating that 'all' inventions / improvements should be 'given away'. It just seems like some things should be done for the good of mankind. I do believe that patents play a role in helping innovation when someone thinks they can make money from something. But that being said, as pointed out on /. so many times in the past, people / corporations abuse the patent process for monetary gain.

        I guess what would be nice is to occasionally hear a story about someone who does invent something, and then

    • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:59PM (#32269232)

      Because here's a bitter reality: a whole bunch of people worked on this thing for a long time - months, or even years, to make it happen. If you want to appeal to emotion ("at the expense of dying children") - I'll do the same - these people quite likely have children who will be homeless and possibly starve if their parents are putting months or years worth of work only to have it given away "for the good of mankind".

      Now if you want to suggest that a government or generous charity should buy it then that's fine, but you can't expect people to starve because the work they have done happens to benefit the needy, because I can tell you the immediate result of that: people won't bother with working on this sort of thing anymore.

      • Very well said. Here's hoping the GP takes what you've said to heart and learns from it. But, sadly, if he's "much older" and still hopelessly naive, he probably won't.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        The classic Zorg v. Vito debate.

    • While this seems like a great idea for helping babies (I'm not a doctor), why can't they just publish the idea so everyone can benefit instead of just the cities / villages / towns / areas / families / whatever that can afford to buy one? The patent part is all about making money. At the expense of dying children.

      Did you RTFA?
      They're not building a centrifuge out of salad spinners.

      Here's an incomplete list of features they've included:
      "an electric heating system, air circulation, an air controller, various alarms that monitor the baby's temperature, etc."
      Now look at this picture [] and tell me that it seems like something you can jury rig in a developing country.

      P.S. An appeal to emotion isn't actually an argument.

    • We are actually pursuing non-profit organizations to take this on. I know we won't make money off of it, I don't care...
  • And there was me thinking a house of learning and innovation was actually making a positive contribution to the infant mortality rate.

    Then I saw the magic words "and filed a patent for", and realised like everything else, it's all about the money. Whatever happened to altruism ?

    • Re:Hmfff ... (Score:5, Informative)

      by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Wednesday May 19, 2010 @03:34PM (#32268872) Journal

      Actually, even altruists frequently file for patents for their inventions, then they simply allow free and unfettered licensing of the product.

      After all, if they don't patent it, someone will. And the control over the invention goes to the first patentholder, not the first inventor.

      • Well, if the invention is documented to have occurred before the patent is filed, the patent can be squashed - but that takes an expensive lawsuit.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by natehoy ( 1608657 )

          Yes, it's technically possible to overturn a patent, but an altruist would have to go through a lot of effort and a massive amount of money to gain access to their own invention only to give it away.

          If you invent something, patent it immediately, whether you intend to profit from it or not. If you choose to freely share the invention, fine, at least with a patent on file you won't get some troll who jumps claim on you and starts barring you from using your own invention.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Actually, in the U.S., we're still using the "first to invent" system, not the "first to file" system. The rest of the world uses first to file, because it's far easier to determine who was the first filer. The U.S. occasionally investigates making the switch (because first to invent disputes cost the courts a lot of time and money), but hasn't done so yet. And since the inventors are in Colorado, they're subject to U.S. law. All they'd need to do to "prove" first to invent is mail themselves a sealed copy
        • Oops. Responded to this after the page had been unrefreshed for a while, so I didn't see the previous reply. As I noted, you're wrong on the law, but you're right on the practical approach; being right doesn't mean you won't have to spend a ton of money on lawyers to prove you're right.
    • If altruism is so important to you, buy their patent and release it to the public domain. Or get off your ass and develop a better alternative.

      I'm probably more liberal than most, but I don't get why some people think inventions helping poor or deprived people should simply be given away by the developer/inventor. Developers and inventors have to eat, too.

      • Developers and inventors have to eat too ... perhaps, but this is a University we are talking about, where students go to learn. Apparently the first they must learn is how to profit.

  • ...and bust ghosts.

  • backpack (Score:2, Funny)

    by JDHannan ( 786636 )
    But how do you get the baby to wear the backpack?
  • Your contemporary incubator, as found inhabiting the NICU, is a pricey and sophisticated beast. Now, I'm sure that the "pricey" part could probably be cut substantially if you said "fuck it, 'medical grade' is worthless if you can't afford it. We'll do this one 'commercial grade' and the vast increase in access will more than compensate for a few deaths due to system faults". However, that still leaves you with the "sophisticated" bit. We are talking supplemental oxygen, temp/humidity control, sterile barri
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      So your argument is poor people are too stupid to learn how to operate a machine?

      • No, my argument is that machines can only be operated over time if they exist within range of the supply structure that their technology requires. Poor people are, of necessity, typically quite good generalists. However, they aren't magically good and the downside of poverty and generalism is the unavailability of specialized hardware.

        High tech machines generally, and medical apparatus is particularly bad, tend to rely on a huge web of interlocking suppliers, substantial amounts of human and physical cap
  • I mean, baby deaths in third world are more part of a solution than a problem. They're actually a good thing. The worst that can happen is that the infant still is damaged by, god knows, lack of oxygen or infection, and would be permanently injured or decapacitated. Then what, one more unproductive person in third world, one more mouth to feed? Completely healthy little fellows starve to death every day, and they survived the first test. Think about how much time and effort, energy and money, is invested
  • So these dreadfully ill newborns born to people too poor to take care of themselves in the prenatal period, or just cursed with bad genes, will survive.

    They will survive with increased risks of disease and deformity, bringing an emotional and financial burden upon their already overstretched parents, in a society with few social resources to care for them.

    And then their living older siblings will suffer from decreased parental attention, relationships will be put under strain, and only a few of them will ac

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid ( 135745 )

      The same could be said for you.

      is the life you lead after you turn 40 really going to be productive enough to warrant the cost to develop the technologies that let you live that long?

      After your 60? 80?

      You should live bu your post and go jump off a tall bridge.

    • by wringles ( 12507 )

      So what are you worried about then? "Ill newborns born to people too poor (...) or just cursed with bad genes" may survive, but certainly will not procreate, and therefore those "bad genes" will be excluded from the human genetic pool. If their parents are so overstretched that they can't handle their spawn, their reproductive fitness will certainly be lowered. A society that can't ensure the survival of its members, will eventually be replaced by a fitter society. Why do you think that outcome is worse? Na

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