All posts by: Brian Wadsworth

Thrive Feeding raises $500K for smart baby bottle

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Thrive Feeding raises $500K for smart baby bottle

By Aditi Pai

San Diego-based Thrive Feeding has raised a $500,000 seed round to develop smart baby feeding products.

Thrive Feeding Cofounder Brian Wadsworth told MobiHealthNews that four years ago he knew next to nothing about baby feeding until he met a researcher who had devoted her professional career to studying the feeding of babies.

“It was astonishing to me the scale and the scope of the feeding problem of babies,” Wadsworth said. “It’s not in the news, it’s not in the media, no one is writing about it. It’s under the radar. It also astonishes me that no one is doing anything about it.”

For the next few years, Wadsworth researched baby feeding on and off, before eventually founding Thrive Feeding last summer with Ken Smith.

“The story of Thrive was that we came into it knowing we could make a newborn feeding device that would be efficient, simple, and intelligent and would actually tell mothers how healthy their baby was from a feeding perspective,” he said. “There is nothing available to the healthcare system or to mothers themselves that directly tells them that their baby is a heathy feeder. Or if it’s not a healthy feeder, gives any clues as to why not.”

The standard of care today is tracking a baby’s feeding indirectly by keeping track of weight gain or loss after birth.

Thrive’s first offering is a baby bottle that will track how much milk a baby drinks from birth to between 60 and 90 days and send data to a companion app. Although Wadsworth said that he is not ready to explain his product in detail — it’s still under development — he said the philosophy of the product is to treat feeding as a performance issue. And to be able to evaluate, measure, track, and record the feeding performance of the baby.

While Wadsworth said the product was under development, he also expects it to be available direct-to-consumer within three to six months.

“When it is born we do not know whether it can adequately feed by mouth and we really want that baby to feed by mouth because the alternative is to put tubes in it or intravenous drips of nutrition and that’s really bad,” Wadsworth said. “The first thing that this technology will do is a definitive screening of feeding ability.”

One future use case for the bottle is with premature babies who are given a feeding tube when clinicians think the baby is having trouble with a bottle. The device would generate new data to help them make that decision, but these types of use cases would require further study and FDA clearances.

The initial plan is for the device to be made available direct-to-consumer to help parents track their baby’s progress, Wadsworth said.

“This technology would be used to identify lactation problems that are caused by the infant,” Wadsworth said. “In other words if we know that the infant is a strong feeder from our technology and yet it is not feeding well, we can start looking at the mother or we can start looking at the environment.”

Last October, Atlanta, Georgia-based, NFANT Labs, formerly known as CCB Research Group, received FDA clearance for a smart baby bottle, which uses sensors to measure a baby’s tongue strength and sends the data to a provider’s mobile device.

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Thrive Feeding nets $500K

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San Diego-based Thrive Feeding, a baby feeding tech company, has secured $500,000 in funding. The investors were not named.

PRESS RELEASE

SAN DIEGO — Jan. 20, 2016 — Thrive Feeding today announced it has closed its seed funding round, raising $500,000 from private investors. The funding will be used to help bring the first real-time performance monitoring devices for baby feeding to market.

“The economic and social price we pay for antiquated baby feeding tools is very high and not widely understood,” said Brian Wadsworth, co-founder of Thrive Feeding. “Our advanced feeders will help parents and babies to thrive and give healthcare organizations the data to truly comprehend the feeding challenges of babies.”

According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there were 3.99 million births in the USA in 2014. Experts generally agree that 15 to 25 percent of all newborns, and preemies in particular, experience some level of feeding difficulty during the first few months of life. Feeding issues impact parents, babies and the healthcare system alike in the form of extended hospital stays, readmissions, additional outpatient care and parental stress and all the costs associated with these.

Thrive Feeding has developed a patent pending technology that consists of a feeding bottle augmented by an electronics sensor module which captures and transmits detailed, real-time milk consumption data to a supporting mobile app in similar fashion to the way a fitness bracelet transmits steps or calories. The data provided by the feeders will allow better understanding of the feeding capability and performance of individual babies and, in the bigger picture, the development of healthy feeding standards and treatments.

Currently in development, the new smart feeding bottle for parents and the smart feeding system for medical providers will yield health benefits which include:

Greater insight into feeding difficulties, allowing immediate detection of babies born with below-par oral feeding ability and minimization of tube-feeding of infants who are actually capable of oral feeding

Reliable screening of feeding ability prior to discharge to the home and, when home, better support of mothers with babies failing to thrive

Tracking of feeding development by ongoing monitoring over the critical first 60-90 days of life and reassurance for parents of their baby’s healthy feeding

The Thrive products will begin to arrive in 2016. For more information about Thrive Feeding, visit http://thrivefeeding.com/.

About Thrive Feeding
Thrive Feeding is a baby feeding technology company. It is the culmination of more than 3 years of into the application of technology to infant feeding. Founded by Brian Wadsworth and Kent Smith, Thrive Feeding is based in San Diego and will release its first smart feeding system in 2016. For more information, visit http://thrivefeeding.com/.

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The NICU and Paced Feeding

We first learned about the feeding problems of preemies from research in the NICU. Studies clearly showed that you can dramatically improve bottle feeding with a method that avoids the hydrostatic pressure and vacuum buildup of traditional bottles and gives the baby control of the pace of feeding. We thought of it as self-paced feeding. We reasoned then that any method that helps the most fragile of babies is almost certainly good for all babies.

When we pivoted toward the development of a product for all babies, we were pleasantly surprised to find widespread recognition of the value of what is known as Paced Feeding among health professionals and mothers. Turns out the academic world and real world had started to reach agreement that Paced Feeding is a good idea.

Paced Feeding seeks to minimize the potential for medical interventions, to accelerate development of feeding abilities and to reduce the stress on mother and baby.

It made abundant sense to us that babies are perfectly adapted to breast-feeding and that any bottle is just substituting, at least temporarily or perhaps permanently, for nature’s ideal baby feeding system. Paced Feeding seems like the closest alternative to breast-feeding. We really don’t understand why the big bottle companies have done so little to support it.

You should not be surprised that our primary design goal for the Smart Feeder is to make it the optimal bottle for paced feeding!

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Hello from the project team.

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Welcome to the smart feeding project. Our big idea is to dramatically improve baby feeding. We are working hard on the design and engineering of our device. We should have something to show you soon.

Brian, Kent and Elena are on the team page. We’re still building the rest of the team and will be announcing additions as they are made. Please subscribe to get email updates or visit us on facebook.

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