Apnea is a condition in which the subject stops breathing. Most people are familiar with it in adults, especially as associated with snoring during sleep. However, most babies born at less that 35 weeks have periods where they stop breathing, which can result in a dangerous drop in heart rate. The result can be brain damage or even death. Apnea is especially challenging in underdeveloped areas where premature babies are discharged from a hospital or clinical setting (if they are even in a hospital in the first place), and may not have the close supervision required.
Bempu Health is a company in India that is addressing this problem. They already have developed a bracelet for babies to detect hypothermia, and warn mothers and caregivers if the infant gets too cold. The company is now developing the APNEBOOT, which is a tiny sandal that monitors blood oxygen levels. If it detects a drop, it automatically stimulates the baby to resume normal breathing. The shoe can be used in clinical settings and at home.
The design was one of 12 winners in the “Saving Lives at Birth” competition. With 3.6 million premature births a year in India alone, the developers at Bempu hope to help save lives there and around the world.