$25 Incubator Designed to Save Babies in Developing Countries

$25 baby incubator, baby incubator, baby incubator for developing countries, embrace, embrace incubator

The motto of Inhabitots’ parent site Inhabitat is: ‘design will save the world.’ Helping save the world one newborn at a time is Embrace, a $25 infant incubator designed to sustain premature and low birth weight babies, 80% of which are born in rural areas in developing countries. The cozy, sleeping bag shaped ‘Embrace’ is a thermoregulator which regulates a newborn’s temperature, subbing in for an inaccessible $20,000 traditional hospital baby incubator. Embrace was designed by ‘Extreme Affordability’ students at Stanford Institute of Design with the intent of creating a low cost baby incubator which could regulate body temperature without electricity or moving parts. Read on to learn how Embrace works.

The Embrace team traveled to Nepal to assess the needs of mothers giving birth to premature, low birth weight babies, 450 of whom die every hour in developing countries. They learned that the vast majority of babies born in outlying areas would never make it to a hospital, and “to save the maximum number of lives, their design would have to function in a rural environment… without electricity and be transportable, intuitive, sanitizable, culturally appropriate, and perhaps most importantly—inexpensive.”

Here’s the simplicity behind how Embrace works: Ten to fifteen minutes after its PCM (phase change material) pouch is filled with boiling water, Embrace reaches the critical temperature necessary for a baby’s survival. Embrace is able to retain heat for up to four hours before signaling that the pouch needs re-heating, and may then be re-charged by submersion in boiling water for a few minutes.

The Embrace team has relocated from America to India and hopes to launch their product worldwide in the near future.

+ Embrace

via Boing Boing

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5 Responses to “$25 Incubator Designed to Save Babies in Developing Countries”

  1. This seems like an important advance – but I’m not sure I understand why it wouldn’t be better to just warm premie newborns with body heat? Snuggle up with mom under a blanket? That ensures the proper temparature, doesn’t take any time to prepare, and costs nothing…. Am I missing something?

  2. Beth Shea says:

    My thoughts on the point you mentioned were that perhaps a mother’s body temperature couldn’t get warm enough to reach the heat level required to regulate, sustain and warm a newborn, especially in winter. In modern, state of the art hospitals, $20,000 incubators do the job, as opposed to nurses or mothers cradling newborns, so it’s presumable that a substitute is needed in place of a person, whether it costs thousands or $25 in this case.

  3. Lynda Day says:

    Where a substitue is needed I’m sure this inexpensive incubator could save many lives. However having had a premature baby I believe skin to skin contact is much more effective. Kargaroo Care is a method of care used for premature babies weighing less than 2.5kgs. It provides a unique bonding experience for both parents and babies and the overall benefits to the baby’s development are numerous. In most cases, this is the first time a parent has held their baby, making the experience both emotional and very rewarding. It involves holding your baby on your chest in an upright position with their naked body (apart from a nappy) against your bare skin. They are usually tucked inside their parent’s shirt and in most instances attached to monitors. The warmth, closeness and security of hearing their parent’s heartbeat are extremely comforting to the baby. Research shows the benefits include; more rapid weight gain, maintaining body temperature, reduced chance of infection, more stable heart rate, it encourages the uptake of breastfeeding sooner and can lead to an earlier hospital discharge. Also, many parents believe their baby appears to be more settled and sleep better.

  4. Luis Vasquez says:

    Greetings. NEAT concept..
    Is there a way to obtain a “sample”. I work in a very poor rural jungle community in the Peruvian Amazon Jungle. My next trip is on 08SEP w a group of volunteer pediatric surgeons from Milwaukee.
    Of course, if a sample of the incubator is not possible I will gladly pay for one and most likely more in the future.
    Thank you for your attention
    C Luis Vasquez MD, President
    Yantalo Peru Foundation

  5. Beth Shea says:

    Hello Mr. Vasquez,

    Thanks for writing. Please contact Embrace with your inquiry. Here is the link to the contact info on their website:


    Best of luck,
    Beth Shea

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