Premature babies get a breath of fresh air

Two Australian companies have found a way to ensure premature babies suffering from respiratory difficulties in developing countries receive adequate oxygen.

Most hospitals in developed countries have access to compressed oxygen and air. The two are combined to supply babies with the required amount of oxygen. However, in hospitals with less equipment, compressed air is often not available and babies are put in an ‘oxygen hood’ which supplies a small amount of pure oxygen.

Using this method makes it difficult to maintain a constant level of the gas, and exhaled carbon dioxide builds up in the hood, causing potentially serious problems.

Oxymix, developed by medical device firms NASCOR and CSIRO Biomedical Devices, uses turbine and gasflow technology to allow compressed oxygen to be mixed with atmospheric air at the required concentration.

It is envisaged that the Oxymix system will be available to hospitals for around A$500.

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