At Coney Island Dr. Couney displayed the babies in the incubators and charged 25cents to view them.
Similar sideshows were set up in Europe as parts of fairs and expositions, including the 1933 New York World’s Fair and the 1939 Chicago World’s Fair.
Hospitals were initially reluctant to adopt incubators because of their cost and the lack of evidence of their effectiveness. Dr. Couney’s exhibitions brought awareness to the effectiveness of the incubator, which encouraged hospitals to adopt the technology.
Dr. Couney died in 1950, shortly after American hospitals began to use incubators to care for premature babies.
The following decade, incubators with clear plastic walls were introduced, allowing doctors and nurses to easily see and access the babies.
The invention of the Hess Incubator by Dr. Julian Hess at the Reese Hospital in Chicago; in addition to providing heat and humidity for babies, the Hess Incubator delivered oxygen to the infants.
Gluck observed that the biggest issues was getting visitors and staff to wash their hands. He also observed a baby who was washed regularly was much less likely to become ill than one who wasn’t
Dr. Louis Gluk, Sumner Yaffe, Norman Kretchmer and Harold Simon performed experiments with two sets of babies and controlling their amount of cleanliness.
Gluck additionally designed the L/S ratio test, which determined the maturity of infant’s lungs and therefore their chances of developing certain respiratory diseases.
Parent and baby bonding became even more heavily emphasized in the next decade with the advent of kangaroo care, skin to skin contact between mother and child to promote bonding, stabilize the baby’s breathing, heart rate, body temperature, help the baby gain weight, and grow.
The Newborn Individualized Developmental Care and Assessment Program was developed by Heidelise Als in the 70s, which encouraged family involvement plans for each baby.
Care has continued to improve, and the survival rate for babies born at twenty-three weeks gestational age is now at 33%; babies born at twenty-four weeks have a survival rate of about 65%. Survival without any major health complications has also increased. These increases show hope for premature babies and their parents, and trends indicate that survival rates will rise even more in coming years. With increasing technology and awareness, survival for premature and sick infants is slowly turning from an exception into the standard.