• In developing countries, early childhood and infant mortality rates are still relatively high and influenced by a number of factors. Young children may die because the hospital is too far away, family members do not recognize when a newborn is in danger, or medical care providers simply lack the capacity to offer sufficient interventions.

    India’s record is particularly tragic, with more newborn deaths shortly after birth than anywhere else in the world. Infections and hypothermia number among the most common causes of infant mortality. Hypothermia is when the body’s core temperature falls below 36.5°. This doesn’t present a danger to adults until hypothermia is fairly severe, but even the earliest stages can endanger the life of an infant.

    Infants are particularly subject to hypothermia because of the unique nature of their skin, which immediately cools when the air temperature falls.  This can have fatal consequences, especially in India, where many underweight babies are born. Low birth weight means an infant loses body heat much faster. This process often goes unnoticed by parents, and the stress of low body temperature results in the increased release of noradrenaline into the newborn’s fat cells. The baby’s tiny body burns calories from the essential adipose tissue to generate warmth, resulting in depressed breathing, neurological damage and, in the worst case scenario, death.

    Now a new bracelet has been designed to warn parents when their newborn is in danger. It sends out an alarm signal when an infant’s body temperature drops even a bit to give parents enough time to react and take the child to a hospital. A blue light on the Bempu bracelet blinks every 30 seconds as long as the child is warm enough. When body temp starts to fall, the light turns orange and the bracelet begins beeping.

    Bempu’s founder Ratul Narain grew up in India. He studied at Stanford in the USA, but has returned to his homeland again and again to conduct medical research. Narain has made preventing hypothermia his mission. Since Bempu was founded in 2014, the bracelet has been responsible for saving over 1,000 newborns. Now around doctors 150 medical centers in India prescribe the bracelet for new mothers, and many more clinics have expressed an interest in employing the small bracelet with the huge impact.

    Bempu has won the empowering people.Award for basic needs. The Award, initiated by the Siemens Stiftung, recognizes creative technological solutions for sustainable improvement of basic services. In 2016, the first prize was awarded to BEMPU Health from India for its Bempu Hypothermia Alert Bracelet.

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