Automatic respirator

Automatic respirator

lO 4 CURRENT TOPICS Automatic Respirator.--An ingenious apparatus for coaxing new-born babies to breathe was shown at an exhibition held by Britain'...

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Automatic Respirator.--An ingenious apparatus for coaxing new-born babies to breathe was shown at an exhibition held by Britain's Royal Society late in May. The most common cause of deaths in new-born infants is shortage of breath, caused by defects in the lungs or by general weakness which prevents normal breathing. These difficulties are often only temporary, and the baby will recover if he can be tided over the emergency by an artificial respirator. Unfortunately machines used for paralyzed adults, delivering a dose of air at regular intervals, will not do for the new-born baby, who often takes a few breaths and then rests for a while before starting again. If a regular rhythm is imposed by a machine, the infant struggles against it and does not take in enough air to keep itself alive. The new machine is an electronic respirator which is actually controlled by the infant itself. When the baby makes an effort to take in breath, a small pressure change in his face mask operates a sensitive trigger valve and brings an electronic controller into operation. The original impulse supplied by the baby is amplified and used to open a valve connected to an air or oxygen cylinder. In this way the baby receives breath when it wants it. But the amount of air that it gets is not limited by its own feeble strength. If the child stops breathing for a dangerously long time, the machine takes charge and gives it breath without being asked. But as soon as the child makes another effort itself, the machine responds to it. The machine, developed by a team of doctors, engineers and physicists, is in regular use for the treatment of respiratory difficulties in premature babies and other new-born infants at the Royal Maternity and Women's Hospital in Glasgow, Scotland.

[J. F. I.

The apparatus may have application to the treatment of adults, particularly in respiratory paralysis after poliomyelitis. It is reported that a modified version may be produced commercially.

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