Jorge Odon, a car mechanic from Argentina, has invented a new low-cost birthing device that may transform modern assisted vaginal delivery. Despite having no experience in the field of obstetrics, Mr. Odon used his passion for invention to build upon a party trick, which allows one to remove a cork from a wine bottle without damaging the bottle, and create a device that may reduce newborn infection acquired during childbirth. Mr. Odon, a father of five, observed the remarkably medieval use of forceps and vacuum extractors, both of which can cause bruising and/or scabbing when used on the infant, and began to create a prototype for a more contemporary device that he hoped would revolutionize modern-day vaginal delivery.
At the 65th World Health Assembly, Dr. Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization General Director, said that the Odon device “offers a low-cost simplified way to deliver babies, and protect mothers, when labour is prolonged. It promises to transfer life-saving capacity to rural health posts, which almost never have the facilities and staff to perform a C-section”.1
History of Birthing Devices
Despite modern medical advancements, many obstetricians still use birthing instruments that have seen little improvement from their initial development. The two most common birthing instruments still used today are forceps and the vacuum extractor. The Chamberlen family invented forceps in the 16th century, and their invention grew increasingly popular within the Victorian era.2 Forceps are still in use today and have not changed drastically since first being introduced.
Another common birthing instrument is the vacuum extractor. First manufactured in 1838 by James Young Simpson, the vacuum extractor did not become a viable replacement for forceps until the 1950s.2 Unlike forceps, new developments in materials have improved the device. However, the vacuum extractor can still cause scabbing along the infant’s head and has not proved an adequate substitute for forceps.
How the Odon Device Works
Firstly, a double layer of plastic lining is inserted into the mother’s birthing canal and is wrapped around the infant’s head. A soft plastic bell, which perfectly adapts to the fetal head and prevents damage, is inserted along with the bag. A minimal and self-limited amount of air is then pumped into the bag, which inflates a chamber and causes the bag to gently grip the infant’s head. Given that the infant does not breathe through the nose until birth, there is no obstruction to the flow of oxygen. Once the bag is in place, the inserter is removed. Finally, the infant is pulled through the birthing canal, limiting the chance of bleeding or complications.2
Advantages and Development
The Odon device will hopefully reduce the amount of Caesarean sections, as well as reduce the risk of mother-to-infant disease transference, including HIV. The device is also incredibly easy to use and can be operated by a midwife without a doctor present.
The World Health Organization has designed a study that seeks to “determine if the Odon Device is feasible, safe and efficient for delivering babies during the prolonged second stage of labour.”3 The study is designed to test the device over two phases, both of which will observe the device in varying scenarios.
· Phase one has already been implemented in health care centers in Argentina and South Africa: the device will be used on one hundred women with uncomplicated normal deliveries.
· The device will then be placed into phase two of research, where sixty women suffering from a prolonged second stage of labor will have an assisted vaginal birth with the use of the Odon Device.
The World Health Organization is confident the device will revolutionize assisted birthing and reduce newborn infections worldwide.
1. Venema, Vibeke. “Odon Childbirth Device: Car Mechanic Uncorks a Revolution.” BBC News. BBC, 12 Mar. 2013. Web. 10 Jan. 2014.
2. Chan, Margaret, Dr. “A New, Simple, Low Cost Instrument for Assisted Vaginal Delivery.” Odón Device. World Health Organization, 21 May 2012. Web. 08 Jan. 2014.
3. “Research & Development.” Odón Device. World Health Organization,Web. 13 Jan. 2014.
Last updated 16 August 2016.