PremieBreathe, a portable infant respiratory device, is being developed by students at Yale University to help treat premature infants in the developing world.

Development of PreemieBreathe began in 2014 as a senior project for a Yale University undergraduate. The device pushes air through a humidification chamber and into heated tubing, resulting in high flows of warm humid air that can aid infants in respiratory distress. It’s being designed as an alternative to more expensive high-flow oxygen devices, according to Yale, which are not readily available in developing parts of the world.

Globally, 4.5 million infants die before their first year, according to the World Health Organization, and premature birth is the largest single factor. A quarter of these deaths have a respiratory component, Yale reports.

This month, the device earned the Yale College Dean’s Challenge for Social Innovation, a new pathway for recognizing and advancing a venture by a Yale undergraduate student with a social mission. The Dean’s Challenge was introduced as a means for a social venture to participate in the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute Fellowship—a 10-week bootcamp for accelerating startups at YEI.

“PremieBreathe’s mission has real outcomes on infant survival rates in the poorest parts of the world,” said Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway. “The work it has done in rural Ethiopia is nothing short of inspiring.”

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