Wearable could save millions of infants each year

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/frankiefotografie)

A new wearable device for infants created by a Cambridge-California social enterprise could be the key to preventing fatal or crippling ailments such as diarrhoea & malnutrition, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and others. 

JustMilk is a device which attaches to a mother’s nipple when breastfeeding to deliver key antibiotics, antimalarials, antiretrovirals, vitamins, nutrients, and probiotics. The low-cost Nipple Shield Delivery System (NSDS) being developing is currently in the initial testing and fundraising phases, but could save over 2.9 million babies which die each year within the first month after birth. 

The solution provides an easy but effective way to administer life-saving drugs in a relatively-natural method. To use the NSDS, a mother places the device, containing a pre-loaded tablet insert, over her breast before breastfeeding. As her infant suckles milk  through the device, nutrients are released directly from the tablet into the breast milk and passed to the infant. 

Current delivery systems are invasive or difficult such as oral syringes, dosing cups, and measuring spoons. Many solutions also have to be dissolved in safe water; an issue with a lot of the regions being targeted. 

Each of these methods require more time or thought into aspects such as dosing amounts. A NSDS such as the one being developed here will be pre-loaded and disposable after use to ensure it’s as simple as possible – it also promotes breastfeeding which suboptimal practices of is thought to be the cause of around 800,000 child deaths annually. 

JustMilk is a non-profit with just one seed grant so far and is relying on funding to grow the product to a point where a pharmaceutical company will help provide a global rollout. Donations in any currency are accepted and can be made online through Paypal via their secure site. JustMilk is also happy to take donations by other means – visit the website at http://www.justmilk.org 

Do you think wearables are ushering-in a new era of medical innovation? Let us know in the comments.


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