Rice University Students Design Bag for Infants with Gastroschisis in Low - Resource Countries


Orange County, CA - May 11th, 2018 -  Gastroschisis is a birth defect in which an infant’s intestines exit the body through a hole next to the belly button. Variable in size, other organs including the stomach and liver may also extend outside of the body. Around ninety percent of Gastroschisis cases are identified during the second trimester during normal ultrasound screens.

In the United States, the treatment for this condition is a series of surgeries. Doctors return the exposed intestines and close the hole in the abdomen. We have a clear easy solution to treat this condition. However, in western hospitals, a special bag carries the intestines in a sterile environment while they slowly settle into the abdomen. 

In poverty-stricken countries, the surgery, including the bag is very difficult to get due to the high cost of this procedure. This development is intended for use in low-resource countries, where children rarely survive the condition.

Students at Rice University may have come up with a solution, by developing a bag that can easily be duplicated and sent to poor countries. These students wanted to make sure that they could use one bag to help as many babies as possible in low resource countries.

Rice University Students Design Bag for Infants with Gastroschisis in Low - Resource Countries

The bag is made out of silicone, which is then sewn on all sides. The top of the bag has a reusable clamp that easily screws on. On the bottom of the bag, there is a 3D printed adjustable ring that adjusts to the infants with different sizes of holes, which makes it easier for untrained medical professionals to use.  “We want to make sure the bags hold the intestines tight enough to make sure they reduce slowly because the cavity can only expand gradually,” said Owais Fazal, a social policy analysis major at Rice University.

The team intends to do further testing. They must receive an institutional review board approval before any validation with patients in western countries. “The Ugandan doctor we met with last week said he would definitely want to reuse a bag like this, without a doubt,” said Dr. Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Rice’s Malcolm Gillis University Professor of Bioengineering and director of Rice 360º.


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