BOB HIRSHON (host):
A low-cost answer to premature infant death. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of premature infants die because they don’t have access to six-thousand dollar CPAP machines to help them breath. That’s why Rice University bioengineer Rebecca Richards-Kortum led a team of students who designed their own version that costs just $150, and uses inexpensive aquarium pumps to provide airflow.
REBECCA RICHARDS-KORTUM (Rice University):
They just did some really good basic engineering in how do you build a device that does exactly what it needs to do, but not any more.
A study in Malawi showed the machines increased infant survival rates from 24% to 65%.
And that’s actually very similar to the improvement in survival that was seen when CPAP was introduced in the United States in the 1970s.
I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.