IoT-Connected Baby Bottle nfant Reduces Hospital Time, Costs for Preemie Parents
Wednesday, April 19, 2017 12:00 AM

Approximately 15 million babies — about 1 in 10— are born premature every year, and in the U.S., preterm births are actually rising. Though medical advances are allowing doctors to keep more and more of these babies alive, they often must spend an extended period of time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), a stay that comes with a high price tag — the average cost for an infant to stay in the NICU is around $3,000 per day.

Often, what keeps a baby in the hospital is feeding issues — 70 percent of preemies have trouble feeding. Atlanta-based medical device company nfant, recently named a TAG Top 10 Most Innovative Company in Georgia, is tackling this problem with a high-tech, IoT-connected sensor that attaches to a baby bottle and can measure tongue motion on the nipple.

Developed by Tommy Cunningham, a biomechanical engineer by training, and clinician Dr. Gilson Capitlouto, the smart bottle connects wirelessly through nfant’s mobile app, which aggregates data from feeding and allows the doctor to view and analyze how the baby is progressing in real-time. The company is also developing a robust database of infant feeding stats — kicking off several partnerships with the best hospitals across the country.

This includes a partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, who are using nfant devices to investigate a link between infant feeding patterns and neurodevelopment — in other words, if how a baby sucks is indicative of brain damage and neurological progress. They also kicked off a new study at the largest NICU in the country, as well as one with the Marcus Autism Center to study the potential of the device for autism diagnosis and intervention.

Cunningham took some time away from white papers and clinical trial results to talk to Hype about how much the health and economic impact nfant can have for every member of the healthcare ecosystem, their major growth over the next year, and how nfant is a pioneer for the Southeast’s medical device industry.