Annually, 9 million premature infants are born in resource-scarce settings without access to incubators or reliable electricity, leading to over 1 million preventable premature infant deaths. Neonatal hypothermia is prevalent, ranging from 32% to 85%, in premature infants born at hospitals and homes, even in tropical environments. In addition, infants are transported within or between hospitals without external sources of warmth which can cause preventable hypothermia and increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Doctors, nurses, and midwives may deliver in settings lacking reliable electricity or access to incubators and have only minutes to treat infant hypothermia.
As encouraged by American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and WHO, kangaroo mother care (KMC) is the best way to keep a baby warm; however, it is not feasible to do so for days or weeks at a time as some babies require. When KMC is not available in resource-scarce settings, 3-6 infants may be kept in one incubator, increasing the risk of cross infection. Babies may be swaddled in multiple blankets or even placed next to fire pits to keep warm, causing life-threatening burns. Furthermore, incubators require electricity and often thousands of dollars in investment and running/maintenance costs.
There is an opportunity for an alternative hypothermia treatment that provides instant, safe, long-lasting, and reusable warming. The Warmilu solution is used as a source of warming during transport and within hospitals to help decrease morbidity and mortality in preterm infants, male and female, born around the globe before the 37th week of pregnancy, as well as other newborns who require warmth such as post C-section infants or infants hospitalized with malnutrition, jaundice, pneumonia, and respiratory distress. The Warmilu infant warming solution is currently being used in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Pakistan, and India as an easily implementable post-partum hospital and community-based health care warming solution.
Warmilu’s IncuBlanket and its InstaWarmer pack is a safe, non-electric, long lasting, reusable, and cost-effective blanket incubator. The IncuBlanket was designed to improve morbidity and mortality of infants, improve parental bonding, and reduce costs for any institution caring for premature infants. Available in three sizes, Preterm, Newborn and Newborn Plus, the IncuBlanket generates a warming solution for parents, caregivers, and hospital staff through effective, portable thermoregulation. This 2018, Warmilu has also created a Wipable IncuBlanket which is easier for doctors and nurses to sterilize and reprocess.
APDC seed grant funding will be used to support Warmilu’s regulatory submission and quality system set up.