The Odon Device
The Odon Device was inspired by a YouTube video about how to remove a cork from the inside of a wine bottle.
An invention to help with obstructed labor has turned some heads —
and not just because the idea came from a party trick on YouTube.
The , created by Argentine car mechanic Jorge Odon,
a folded plastic sleeve around the baby's head. A little bit of air is
then pumped between the two plastic layers, cushioning the baby's head
and allowing it to be sucked out. This for removing a cork from an empty wine bottle works the same way.
The device has been embraced by the World Health Organization and is being
by the global medical technology company BD. Once clinical trials are
done, the WHO and individual countries will have to approve it before
it's sold. BD hasn't said how much it will charge, but each one is
expected to cost less than $50 to make.
A Curious Dilemma
Hominin brains have gotten bigger and female pelvises have narrowed since the advent of walking on two feet. This unfortunate ,
termed the "obstetric dilemma," means that over time it has become
harder for babies to fit through where they're supposed to come out. The
cause is still .
"If proven safe and effective," a on Odon's invention said, "the
Odon Device will be the first innovation in operative vaginal delivery
since the development of forceps centuries ago and vacuum extractor
The Odon device shows that "good ideas can come from anyone and anywhere," says , director of USAID's Center for Accelerating Innovation and Impact.
you're in the business of innovating, she says, there's no need to
strive for mechanical complexity. Some of the biggest breakthroughs are
cheap and simple. And, she says, the strategy for scaling something up
for worldwide use "is just as important as the innovation itself."
One of the crowning innovations in preventing death during childbirth was convincing doctors to in between handling corpses and delivering babies. And many argue that fancier tools are just part of a tradition of that circumvented the : gravity.
With that in mind, here are five ideas that struck us as innovative and surprising (some more likely to succeed than others):
1. Ready Yet?
A team at the University of California, San Francisco created a ""
to check whether a woman is about to go into labor. The device can
detect changes in the collagen of the cervix. The softening of collagen
as the cervix opens is a telltale sign a baby's on its way. Information
from the cap's sensors can be transmitted to a nearby cellphone, which
can send the data to a doctor. The device can be inserted briefly once a
day, without a professional's help.
2. Back To Basics
A team at Massachusetts General Hospital developed a
to stop postpartum hemorrhage. It consists of a condom tied to a
catheter. Water from the catheter fills the condom in the uterus,
creating pressure that can stop the bleeding. The kit has been tested
successfully in South Sudan and Kenya. A similar tool in the U.S. can
cost more than $300 each, Mass General says, compared with less than $5
each for the simple balloon kit.
3. Like Stretching Before A Race
stretch their muscles before a race; why not do the same before birth?
That's the thinking behind a device by Materna Medical currently being
evaluated in clinical trials in Australia. Over the course of one to
three hours during early labor, it the vaginal canal from the usual
diameter of 2.6 centimeters to the fully expanded size required to pass a
baby, about 8 to 10 centimeters. Though the product description
includes bracing terms like "force-controlled" and "semi-automatic,"
it's supposed to make birth gentler on Mom.
4. From Gourds To Balloons
can inflate to the size of a football. In practice, it doesn't get
wider than a standard grapefruit. In the weeks leading up to delivery,
the German-made pelvic floor muscle exerciser is intended to stretch
vaginal muscles so that they don't tear during birth. The invention was
supposedly inspired by the traditional use of gourds in some African
countries for the same purpose.
5. Centrifugal Birth
Patented in 1965 by
George and Charlotte Blonsky, the Blonsky Device is an "apparatus for
facilitating the birth of a child by centrifugal force." It looks
medieval and works like a centrifuge. The soon-to-be-mother is strapped
to a table, which rotates at high speed until the baby shoots out into a
carefully placed net — about as close as birth gets to a slam dunk. The
inventors an Ig Nobel Prize for their, um, ingenuity, and were honored with a mini-opera about the patent.