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Car mechanic's device could potentially save a baby stuck in the birth canal

The device could potentially help free stuck newborns in poor countries and rural areas.

By Ananth Baliga
Car mechanic's device could potentially save a baby stuck in the birth canal
The Odón device uses a plastic bag to wrap around the baby's head and then creates enough suction to pull the baby out. (Credit: Ministerio de Ciencia)

(UPI) -- A YouTube video inspired Jorge Odón to invent a device that could help remove babies stuck in the birth canal, and the device has gotten an enthusiastic endorsement from the World Health Organization.

Odón, a 59-year-old mechanic from Argentina, built the device using a glass jar for the womb, a doll for a trapped baby and a lubricated plastic bag as the life-saving device. An attendant can slip the bag over the baby's head, inflate it till its gets a good grip and then pull till the baby emerges from the womb.

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“This is very exciting,” said Dr. Mario Merialdi, the WHO’s chief coordinator for improving maternal and perinatal health. “This critical moment of life is one in which there’s been very little advancement for years.”

Odón got the idea after watching a Youtube video on how to remove a cork which had fallen into a bottle. The video showed a person lower a plastic bag into the bottle, inflate it and then pull the cork out.

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The Odón device, doctors said, could be a boon in poor countries and help reduce the number of cesarean sections in wealthier ones. Obstructed labor in wealthy countries means the mother is rushed to the operating table but in poor countries, Dr. Merialdi said, “if the baby doesn’t come out, the woman is on her own.”

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The current options include using forceps or suction cups which attach to the babies head. But in the wrong hands these could cause serious injury to the baby such as hemorrhaging, crushing the baby's head or twisting its spine.

The device has received the endorsement of the WHO, and Odón has found a American technology company to manufacture it. While the device will require further testing, doctors are confident that midwives will be able to use the device with minimal training.

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The WHO will now oversee tests on 100 more women in normal labor in China, India and South Africa, and then on 170 women in obstructed labor.

[New York Times] [World Health Organization]

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