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Open Access A low cost, re-usable electricity-free infant warmer: evaluation of safety, effectiveness and feasibility

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Setting: Rural Rwandan hospitals, where thermoregulation is critical yet a challenge for pre-term, low-birth-weight (LBW) or sick newborns.

Objective: To assess the safety, effectiveness, and feasibility of an inexpensive, reusable, non-electric warmer to complement kangaroo mother care (KMC).

Methods: Prospective single-arm, non-randomized intervention study. Enrolled infants were hypothermic or at risk of hypothermia due to prematurity/LBW. Infants used the warmer in conjunction with KMC or as the sole source of external heat. Temperatures of the infant, warmer and air were measured for up to 6 h.

Results: Overall, 33 patients used the warmer for 102 encounters: 43 hypothermic and 59 at risk of hypothermia. In 7/102 encounters (7%), the infant developed a temperature of >37.5°C (37.6°–38.2°C). For 43 hypothermic encounters and 59 at-risk encounters, hypothermia was corrected/prevented in respectively 41 (95%) and 59 (100%) instances. The warmer maintained goal temperature for the study duration in 85% of uses. Two/12 warmers broke down after <10 uses. In no instances was the warmer used incorrectly.

Conclusion: Our results are promising for this prototype design, and warrant testing on a wider scale.
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Keywords: kangaroo mother care; low-resource setting; non-electric warmer

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Partners In Health, Inshuti Mu Buzima, Kigali, Rwanda 2: Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Children's Hospital of Colorado, Aurora, Colorado, USA 3: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California, USA, University of California, Berkeley, California, USA 4: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Berkeley, California, USA 5: Partners In Health, Inshuti Mu Buzima, Kigali, Rwanda, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA 6: Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Institutional Centers for Clinical and Translational Research, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA 7: Rwinkwavu District Hospital, Rwanda Ministry of Health, Kayonza, Rwanda 8: Rwanda Biomedical Center, Kigali, Rwanda 9: Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Publication date: December 21, 2018

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  • Public Health Action (PHA), The Union's quarterly open access on-line journal, provides a platform for its mission 'Health solutions for the poor'. PHA addresses the need for show-casing operational research that addresses issues in health systems and services. It publishes high-quality scientific research that provides new knowledge to improve access, equity, quality and efficiency of health systems and services.

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