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Detection of Neonatal Hypothermia

Team Members:
  • Eric Ashuckian
  • Jennifer Gilbertson
  • Julia Michalow
  • Matthew Petney
  • Azadeh Farzin, MD
  • Wilson Wang, MD
  • Elizabeth Cristofalo, MD
  • Kristy Peterson
  • Lindsay Litwin
  • Luke Mullany, PhD
  • Joanne Katz, ScD, MS
  • Pushkar Ingale
  • Jinjie Sunny Chen
  • Tor Inge Garvik


Neonatal hypothermia affects an estimated 17 million newborns annually in developing countries. It is a significant contributing factor to the high rates of neonatal mortality that exists in this setting because hypothermia compromises neonates’ immune systems, thus increasing their susceptibility to other conditions such as infection and hypoglycemia. In Nepal neonatal hypothermia is the fourth leading cause of neonatal death and 16 percent of hypothermic neonates die during the first week after birth.

Despite high incidence rates for hypothermia, caretakers are frequently unaware of its occurrence because the early stages of hypothermia are asymptomatic. Our team has developed the IllumiNate hat to monitor neonatal temperature and alert care providers when newborns become hypothermic. The hat uses a low cost circuit that lasts for a minimum of three days, the highest risk period for hypothermia and its associated mortality. The alert is designed to be easily interpreted by non-literate mothers. Field studies in Nepal, Tanzania, and India have confirmed the need for hypothermia prevention and monitoring, and have guided the team’s design process. Bench-top testing has additionally demonstrated that the technology is comparable to the standard of care. The IllumiNate hat will be implemented with a training program on hypothermia prevention and management, and will empower mothers to monitor their babies for hypothermia, one of the most risky and easily corrected conditions that newborns face.

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