A device developed by IIT Kanpur to save newborns

The machine will drastically cut down the cost of treatment, therefore helping the needy

Kanpur, UP: IIT Kanpur believes that the foremost aim of science is to help in the betterment of society and keeping true to this statement, researchers at the institute have developed a low-cost medical device that promises to help newborn babies grow into healthy adults by treating cases of neonatal jaundice.

In a ceremony held on 9th May 2018, three new machines were gifted by IIT Kanpur to the LLR Hospital. Prof. Abhay Karandikar, Director and Prof. S. Ganesh, Dean of R&D, IIT Kanpur handed over the units to Dr. R.C. Gupta, Superintendent, GSVM Medical College, Kanpur. Pediatricians from Kanpur City Dr. Yeshwant Rao and Dr. K.K. Dokania along with Shri Ravi Nemani and Shri Salil Nemani were also present at the ceremony.

Cases of jaundice in newborn babies are extremely common in India and it is to help decrease this number that IIT Kanpur has developed the phototherapy machine which uses blue light to cure the disease. The machine has been developed by Prof. S. Anantha Ramakrishna and Prof. Harshwardhan Wanare of the Department of Physics, and Prof. J. Ramkumar of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

The Institute has partnered with Dr. Rao and Dr. Dokania and with the Nemani family to form a company to develop and market these new phototherapy units that are expected to make the treatment more efficient, thereby reducing the time duration for irradiation and the treatment costs.

The units can be used in wards outside the NICU and are also expected to be much less expensive as compared to existing units, which will make the treatment more affordable to the poor. The company formed, Jyoti Sanjeevani R & D Pvt. Ltd.,  has manufactured prototypes as per the design of IIT Kanpur researchers and these will be used in clinical trials to evaluate the new spectral scheme developed by the Institute at the Government LLR hospital and two private nursing homes in Kanpur.

In newborn children, the liver often does not commence functioning immediately after birth leading to jaundice. The blue light breaks down the excess bilirubin in the blood and the skin into a compound called lumirubin that can then be excreted by the kidneys.

Conventionally, phototherapy machines have either a blue-colored fluorescent lamp or an ordinary fluorescent lamp with an added blue filter. These have the disadvantage of dehydrating the baby due to the presence of other light colors that cause heating and even expose the baby to small amounts of harmful ultraviolet light. The development of inexpensive LED sources has revolutionized this treatment – LEDs can be used as powerful sources of pure blue light, without the mixture of any other colors or ultraviolet, that is quite efficient in this treatment. Now several companies across the world offer phototherapy machines with LED sources, although there is an absence of proper control on the recommended intensity levels, the wavelength band and the uniformity of light over the irradiation region, in many of the presently marketed units.

The units developed by IIT Kanpur differs from the common phototherapy machines in that they not only make use of LEDs but also offer well-calibrated intensities, wavelengths and uniformity of blue light in an inexpensive manner.

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