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Low-cost 'cooling cure' would avert brain damage in oxygen-starved babies
Date:3/21/2013

people to use. It's inexpensive and user-friendly," said Michael V. Johnston, a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine pediatric neurology professor who advised the undergraduate team. Johnston also is chief medical officer and executive vice president of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, an internationally recognized center in Baltimore that helps children and adolescents with disorders of the brain, spinal cord and musculoskeletal systems.

For the past 25 years, Johnston has been studying ways to protect a newborn's brain, including the use of costly hospital cooling units that keep brain cells from dying after an oxygen deficiency. Several years ago, while visiting Egypt, he learned that local doctors were using window fans or chilled water bottles in an inadequate effort to treat oxygen-deprived babies. When he returned to Baltimore, Johnston and Ryan Lee, a pediatric neurologist and postdoctoral fellow at Kennedy Krieger, discussed the problem with Robert Allen, a Johns Hopkins associate research professor in a biomedical engineering program that requires undergraduates to design and build devices to solve pressing medical problems. Allen suggested that Johnston and Lee present the baby-cooling dilemma to biomedical engineering students in the school's Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design.

The challenge was accepted in 2011 by a team of Whiting School of Engineering undergraduates. With an eye toward simplicity and low cost, the students designed a cooler made of a clay pot and a plastic-lined basket, separated by a layer of sand and urea-based powder. This powder is the type used in instant cold-packs that help reduce swelling. To activate the baby-cooling unit, water is added to the mixture of sand and powder, causing a chemical reaction that draws heat away from the upper basket, which cradles the child. (The chemical would not come into direct contact with the newborn.)

The unit's batteries power a microprocessor and sensors th
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Contact: Phil Sneiderman
prs@jhu.edu
443-287-9960
Johns Hopkins University
Source:Eurekalert  

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