Saving Mothers’ is in Newsweek for it’s collaborative project, the Kangaroo Mother Care sling. Click here to read the article.
What is Kangaroo Mother Care?
The risk of neonatal death due to complications of preterm birth is twelve times higher for babies born in low-income countries compared to those born in high-income countries; this incongruity in survival is in part due to a lack of essential newborn care in rural clinics as well as a shortage of incubators in hospitals in less developed countries.
Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) was developed thirty-five years ago to address this incubator shortage in the developing world and provide a means for low birth weight babies to receive optimal care in low resource settings. The practice entails holding a newborn skin-to-skin against the mother’s chest. KMC has beneficial effects beyond survival, such as regulating body temperature, reducing stress, boosting the immune system, and creating an emotional bond between mother and baby. According to the WHO, KMC can reduce up to 450,000 preterm deaths each year by 2015 if universally accepted.
Creating a global device for KMC
Despite WHO recommendations, KMC is not universally accepted. So Erica Weinstein, Kim McClinch, and Elizabeth LaRosa, graduate students at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, set out to design a specialized device to accelerate the uptake of this life-saving intervention. Dr. Taraneh Shirazian, Medical Programs Director of the non-profit Saving Mothers, mentored the graduate students throughout the project and Saving Mothers provided seed funding for the development of an initial prototype.
Because there is no standardized device that allows KMC to be seamlessly adopted in low-resource settings, it can be difficult for mothers to provide continuous care for their newborns throughout the day. This need was tackled in the initial design of the KMC device, creating an inexpensive, ergonomic, and culturally sensitive product that maximizes skin-to-skin contact, the hallmark practice of KMC.
The graduate students and Saving Mothers are collaborating to launch the device within the next six months at various clinics and home birth settings in developing countries.