A plastic bag that can save lives!
In disadvantaged areas and developing regions, hypothermia at birth is one the major contributing factors to the mortality risks for newborns, mainly for premature infants.
For premature infants, given that they are particularly at risk of hypothermia, maintaining a body temperature between 36.5 and 37.5°C is essential to improving their chances of survival. Among the techniques used to reduce heat loss, an experiment has shown that placing the babies in polyethylene bags helps to preserve body heat:
"When we use a plastic film, with or without a cap, we are probably giving the baby a better chance of surviving, of maintaining a normal body temperature. This could be an extremely useful technique given that it is cheaper and available everywhere", explained Bombay-based neonatologist Bhupendra Avasthi: "infant mortality is very high in our country; around 20 to 25% of the world's premature infants are born in India. Plastic bags could be a very affordable solution".
In developed countries, a baby at risk of hypothermia would be placed in an incubator. However, incubators cost around €15,000. An exorbitant amount for the poorest countries.