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BBC World Service

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Life Under Glass

August 17th, 2016

Episode 1303 of 1370 episodes

The story of the premature babies in incubators on display in amusement park on Coney Island, and how the man who put them there, Martin Couney, changed attitudes to premature babies and saved countless lives. At Coney Island amusement park between 1903 and 1943 there was an extraordinary exhibit: tiny, premature babies. 'Dr Martin Couney's infant incubator’ facility was staffed by nurses in starched white uniforms and if you paid a quarter, you could see the babies in their incubators. Journalist Claire Prentice has been following the story and tracked down some of those babies, now in their 70s, 80s and 90s, who were put in the show. She discovers how Dr Couney brought the incubator to prominence in the USA through World's Fairs and amusement parks, and explores how a man who was shunned by the medical establishment changed attitudes to premature babies and saved countless lives. Image: Coney Island amusement park in 1904, Credit: Getty Images

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