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The Children's Incubator.
(Letter to the Editor)

By J. Egerton Brandt, M.D.

British Medical Journal  2:1528, December 14th, 1895


Sir, --

Having seen in the British Medical Journal of November 16th (page 1250) a paragraph on the contemplated provision of an incubator at the Liverpool Workhouse, with your comments on Hearson's and Auvard's systems, I should suggest to you the latest type devised by Mr. Lion, which has met with general approval at Marseilles, Lyons, and Paris. I have had the opportunity of examining it here in this town, where in a large room eight or ten incubators are kept for the general public. The expenses are met by small fees, voluntary contributions aided by the Town Council, as a set-off to the destitute parents who are unable to give pecuniary help.

The main features of this incubator are:

1. The incubator is entirely composed of galvanised sheet iron, which therefore can be easily disinfected should this be necessary. Its dimensions are: height, 0.70 cm.; length and breadth, 0.55 cm. [sic].

2. The ventilation is effected by a row of holes at the lower part of the apparatus and another row at the top; besides, there is a ventilating shaft (0.10 cm diameter) fixed in the roof, which can be connected with the exterior of the room or house.

3. The temperature is kept up by a Bunsen burner beneath a reservoir containing 12 litres of water, from which metal coils pass into the apparatus to heat the air; the feeding required is insignificant and obviates the inconvenient changing of hot water bottles or larger reservoirs as in Auvard's invention. The regulation of the temperature is automatic, by a simple expedient depending upon the variation in volume of a column of air altering the position of a column of mercury, which in its turn allows more or less gas to reach the Bunsen burner.

4. For further security there is a detachable small arrangement consisting of a dry battery connected with a thermometer and an electric bell; the variation in temperature is transmitted by a movable needle placed between two commutators; should the mercury depart from the mean range of temperature the needle comes into contact with one of the commutators and the bell rings.

To this summary of advantages I may add that the apparatus is easy to put into working order, and has been very favourably reported on at the Paris Academy of Medicine by Professor Pinard. The price of the incubator in galvanised sheet iron is about £18, in wood about £9; these figures I have obtained second hand, as Mr. Lion is away at present and I have not been able to make his acquaintance. No doubt for hospitals the price would be materially modified.

-- I am, etc.,
J. Egerton Brandt, M.D.

Nice, Nov. 18th.

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