Exposition visitors to the Incubator building on the Mall cannot but be impressed by the infant incubator. By means of the incubator, the prematurely born child is given the right start in life. Ordinarily, only about 25 per cent of those babies live but when cared for in the incubator fully 85 per cent are saved.
There are twelve infants at the incubator now, eleven of them being in the incubators. The twelfth one has been out of the apparatus four days, and is in a wire basket in the nursery, where she will remain for observation purposes for five weeks when she will be returned to her mother. She is a perfectly developed and beautiful child, with no indication that she was nurtured in an incubator. With one exception they are all Buffalo babies. The babies are brought in a comatose condition, and it is only by drastic measures that the incubator doctors are able to bring back vitality. If the cases are not brought too late, there is always some chance for saving them.
As soon as a child is received, it is given a synized bath in water and mustard, then two drops of brandy are placed in its mouth, which acts as a stimulant. Its body is then rubbed with alcohol and the child is placed in the incubator, and kept in temperature of 96 degrees Fahrenheit for four or five days, being removed regularly day and night every 1 1/2 hours to be fed about fifteen grams of nourishment with a nasal spoon.
Its food consists of milk supplied by healthy wet nurses. The child being too weak to have a desire for food, the milk is placed in a small glass, which is immersed in a larger glass containing warm water, that keeps the milk at the proper temperature. The spoon is also heated to the same temperature, and the child is fed a drop of milk at a time through the nose, inhaling the food as it breathes. With all the precaution taken to keep nourishment at the proper temperature the incubator doctors find that the food has not the same life-giving qualities as it would have if the child drew it from the mother. The little one is never out of danger until such time as it has the strength to take at least 30 grams or one ounce of nourishment at a single feeding.
When it becomes strong enough to swallow, it will evince a desire for food, and it is then fed by means of a teteralle, a device whereby Nature's food is gravitated to the child's mouth.
Every child is weighed before and after each feeding, to ascertain the amount of nourishment he took. A complete record is kept of this, as is of every other detail of that infant from the time he was born. The report and number of each child is in full view in front of the incubator to which he belongs.
The incubator looks much like showcases, with so little metal in view as to be scarcely noticeable. They are raised from the floor by steel rods to a convenient height for the observer. The child lies on a soft padded bed of woven wire and his chamber is entirely of glass, so that he is in full view of the spectators. The air in the incubators is kept at a uniform temperature by means of an automatic contrivance, and fresh air is introduced through a large pipe. The air is first purified by passing through an antiseptic fluid and then through cotton, and warmed before it is permitted to pass into the infant's apartment. The atmosphere is kept humid by a pan of water which is placed under his little bed.
The tiny mites are dressed similar to other infants, except that their feet are wrapped up in swaddling clothes. The boys and girls are distinguished by ribbons, the boys wearing blue and the girls pink. There is no danger of a mother receiving the wrong child from the incubator, for as soon as a baby is received into the institution a necklace of seventeen [illegible] believed by the Germans to be lucky, with another tag stamped with the child's initials and number is sealed on its neck and remains there until after it leaves the institution. A card with the corresponding number is placed on the child's incubator.
The youngest child in the institution has been nicknamed Cocoa by the trained nurses in attendance. it was born in this city on Sunday, June 2nd, and was received at the institution on the morning of June 3rd in an expiring condition. He is a small child but has a pair of strong lungs that enable him at times to cry lustily, much to the amusement of the spectators.
A tiny boy, labeled, "A. S., No. 45," born on Sunday, June 2nd and received on June 8th in bad condition, is being treated for opthalmia, an inflammation of the eyes. His eyes are bandaged, not to keep out the light, but for the application of medicine. Whe he is older, the physicians say his eyesight will be good and that he will not suffer any ill effect from his present trouble.
"L.W., No. 41," and "B.W. No. 40," twin girls, receive considerable attention from visitors. When they were received, their combined weight was seven pounds and yesterday it was eleven pounds and twelve ounces.
Little Willie is the pet of the institution, having been the first child admitted. He is yet in his incubator, but will come forth on Monday, June 24th, when he will have his full sense of sight and hearing. He has benn in the institution since April 26th and weighs five pounds, eight ounces. His weight when born was two pounds, fourteen ounces.
After a child's time in the incubator has expired, he is kept in the nursery under observation for five weeks, during which time he is weaned and taught to use cow's sterilized milk. The children are cared for night and day by trained nurses from the Berlin baby incubator institution. The are always kept in a perfectly hygenic condition and are given more attention than they would receive from their mothers.
At the close of the Exposition, the Qbata Company, which has the exhibit, will open an institution in Boston, Mass., and later in every large city in the United States.