Developing low-cost treatment for neonatal asphyxia 


NAP 2017


The Neonatal Asphyxia Project’s mission is to design an innovative solution to mitigate the complications associated with birth asphyxia in low-resource communities.


The Neonatal Asphyxia Project (NAP) was founded at the University of Michigan in December of 2015. Hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, more commonly referred to as neonatal asphyxia, birth asphyxia, or perinatal asphyxia, is a condition that results from insufficient oxygenation of the brain and other vital organs during or shortly after birth. Neonatal asphyxia can be caused by a great number of complications. Among the problems that can contribute to the occurrence of neonatal asphyxia are: preeclampsia, infant heart or lung malformations, cephalopelvic disproportion, inadequate oxygenation of maternal blood, knotting of umbilical cord around the infant’s neck, and prolonged delivery. Oxygen deprivation damages brain cells and can result in a variety of medical conditions depending on the duration and extent of asphyxia. Developmental delays and intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, seizures, motor disorders and other physical maladies can all occur in neonates affected by asphyxia. During discussions with Dr. Alejandro Young, a neonatologist and one of our international community partners in Honduras, NAP identified the need to increase accessibility to neonatal asphyxia treatment. Dr. Young shared information about an promising option for neonates with asphyxia: hypothermia therapy. This novel treatment is the only medical intervention for neonatal asphyxia that has been shown to improve brain function. By cooling neonates with asphyxia by 3-4 degrees Celsius after delivery for 72 hours, physicians can expect to see reductions in cerebral metabolic rates, decreased inflammatory response, and reduced apoptosis occurrences. Unfortunately, the Hospital Escuela Universitario in Honduras, where Dr. Young practices, cannot afford machines currently available to administer hypothermia and treat asphyxia in neonates. Clinics and hospitals in underserved communities around the world are limited by the resources available to procure cutting-edge medical technology. Since its inception, NAP has developed and grown a cohesive, interdisciplinary team of undergraduate and graduate students, completed literature review and extensive research on the mechanisms and current treatment options for neonatal asphyxia, and communicated with experts in both neonatology and hypothermia therapy at the University of Michigan Health System, College of Engineering, and in the biomedical technology industry. In March 2016, NAP identified a mentor, Dr. William Meurer, in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School. Dr. Meurer is exploring novel hypothermia therapy technologies and applications for use in cardiac arrest patients. In July 2017, NAP applied for a grant from the Hypoxic-ischemic Encephalopathy Help Center in Bloomfield Hills, MI. Excitingly, the team was awarded $1,000 to help support research and development expenses for affordable hypothermia therapy technology. In September 2017, NAP identified a mentor from Stryker to help foster the design process and provide feedback as the team begins prototyping. In December of 2018, NAP began utilizing prototyping space in the Center for Socially Engaged Design at the University of Michigan College of Engineering.

NAP Team Leads 2017

Project Leads

Saloni jaikamal |