The world’s first neonatal birth unit that is able to simulate the positive stresses of natural birth for babies born via Caesarean (otherwise known as C-section) has been created by the specialist medical team at NnBU.
It has been over 130 years since the first Caesarean was performed in 1881 by Ferdinand Adolf Kehrer in Meckesheim, Germany. Since then, the method has been refined by Hermann Johannes Pfannenstiel who developed the ‘Pfannenstiel’s incision’ which is still widely used today.
C-sections pose a risk to babies due to the fact that the processes of a natural birth are not recreated. With a Caesarean birth there is a risk that the baby has not adjusted to life outside the uterus, since various adaptation processes are not properly triggered. Furthermore, it is possible that diseases are promoted due to the lack of intestinal stimulation. The risk of babies developing late-onset obesity is also greatly increased.
There is evidence to suggest that children born by C-section have a higher incidence of medical issues than those who are born naturally. Recent research has shown that babies delivered by C-section have a 59% higher risk of obesity under the age of 5, and a 21% increased risk of asthma under the age of 12*. The recent findings were collected and published by the University of Edinburgh as a result of a review of 80 studies and trials that collectively looked at 29 million births. Other research studies have also found links between C-sections and allergies**, type 1-diabetes and celiac disease***.
The NnBU device has been specially designed for use in hospitals and clinics to help combat these problems, by German team Claus Peters, Johannes Schenck and Frédéric Vo Van. The device gently massages the torso of the child immediately after the birth and positive APGAR score test in sequences that simulate the pressure exerted during labour. As well as this, light is used to help wake the baby up and become more alert in a comfortable and natural way. Throughout the procedure, the baby’s vital signs and the increase of the oxygen saturation are constantly monitored by sensors in the device.
The device uses breakthrough blockchain technology to ensure it is only operated by trained staff and that any maintenance is completed by authorized personal. In addition, every treatment in the device can be recorded with permission to give vital insight into research regarding C-section deliveries.
Petra Sacher, gynaecologist and medical advisor to NnBU, said,
“As I am confronted daily with the consequences of C-Sections on babies, the path of the NnBU device is just right. Such direct treatment should, in my opinion and that of my colleagues, become an urgent global standard in Caesarean delivery.”
While C-sections used to be associated solely with emergency situations, many women now elect to have this surgery either due to the advice of their doctors or simply by choice. In recent years, this practice of elective C-section has increased – in fact, across a number of Western countries the rate of C-section births has risen on average from 19.8% in 2000 to 27.9% in 2015. The market for a device that could help improve the results of C-sections is therefore substantial.
However, there are many countries where the proportion of C-section births is far higher than the world-wide average, for example, Brazil’s rate is 55.6% (urban areas have much higher rates). Other notable figures include Venezuela, 54.1%, Colombia 53.5%, Egypt 51.8%, Turkey 53.1%, Mexico 46.8%, Chile 46.0%, urban China 46.0%, Hungary 37.2%, urban India 36.5%, Poland 36.2%, Italy 35.3%, Switzerland 32.9%, Portugal 32.3%, United States 32.2%, Germany 30.2%, Slovak Rep. 30.2%, Ireland 30.1% and Argentina at 29.1%.
It is easy to see that the “elective” C-section is now a strongly established feature of medical practice in countries in different regions and at different stages of economic development. When referring to figures from 2016, the approximate number of C-sections totalled in these countries are as follows; Germany 225,000, in France 167,000, in Italy 170,000, in Spain 102,000, in the United Kingdom 205,000, in Brazil (major cities only) 346,000, and in the United States 1,300,000.
Berlin-based Frédéric Vo Van, co-founder and CEO of NnBU, said, “As someone who was born via C-section myself, I was drawn to this idea through some of my own experiences. When I moved to Germany in my thirties I developed allergies and a sensitivity to cold weather and upon researching this I found out this is common for children born via C-section.”
A crowdfunding token sale starting on March 19 2018 will fund the device and bring it to market. Upon completion of this funding, the device will be developed at one of Germany’s most highly regarded research institutions, the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing, Engineering and Automation alongside medical device developers DMTpe.