Throwing the Baby in With the Bathwater: Underwater Bubble CPAP

A new method of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure may be less invasive, more effective, and a far lower cost than traditional methods. A CPAP ventilator system is essential for ensuring the normal breathing of newborn, particularly pre-term infants. CPAP has been shown to increase the survival rates of infants and the Underwater Bubble technique would allow it to be used with fewer limitations.


The underwater bubble technique is named such because as air is pumped into the infants lungs, it exhales into a tube the end of which is submerged in a container of water, regulating the pressure of the entire system. Pressure can be adjusted simply by raising or lowering the depth of the tube.


This study did not conduct trials and experiments but rather evaluated the techniques and their effectiveness in a newborn intensive care unit at a Brazilian university hospital.


The underwater bubble method does not require the insertion of a breathing apparatus making it minimally invasive, and is much lower cost than present alternatives, making the technique more readily available to the developing world.


Really the goal of CPAP is to ensure that newborns are able to breathe without the need for mechanical ventilation or intubation, two invasive and high risk techniques that are fortunately becoming less needed as CPAP progresses.


Another study (Dunn 2011) found that CPAP allowed 48% and 54% of newborns to be managed without mechanical respiration or lung inflating fluid.


Abelenda V.L.B., Valente T.C.O,. Marinho C.L., and Lopes A.J. 2018 Effects of underwater bubble CPAP on very-low-birthweight preterm newborns in the delivery room and after transport to the neonatal intensive care unit. Journal of Child Health Care: XX(X) 1-12


Dunn MS, Kaempf J, de Klerk A, et al. (2011) Randomized trial comparing 3 approaches to the initial respiratory management of preterm neonates. Pediatrics 128(5): 1069–1076.

The Under water Bubble CPAP machine, seen facilitating respiration for a newborn

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