Researchers have developed a small cartridge that can identify harmful microbes in a newborn or the mother. It is extremely easy to use and does not require much clinical microbiological expertise.
The health worker simply adds a sample from the baby, mother, or both, and waits ten to fifteen minutes for the result. This simple, cheap and rapid test gives health care professionals useful data so that they can decide quickly what treatments to recommend.
When a baby is born, they move from the protection of the womb to an environment with literally trillions of microscopic organisms.
Douglas Weibel, biochemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said:
"While that microbial environment in the gut is still developing, the introduction of one of many of the wrong kinds of bacteria may cause a severe immune response. In an infant, the immune system could just ravage the intestines."