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The Importance of Breastfeeding: Motherhood & Innovation
How Coroflo created a solution to aid new moms in adopting breastfeeding.
April 29, 2021 | by Avantika Pathak
Globally, only 4 out of every 10 babies are exclusively breastfed in the first six months.1 In the US alone, just 25.6% of infants are being breastfed through six months and only 35.3% of infants continue on breastmilk with food.2
Some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world can be found in the United Kingdom and its neighbor Ireland, birthplace of the novel breast-feeding technology, Coroflo. A mere 1% of UK infants out of the 81% initiated on breast milk continue to receive breast milk exclusively at six months of age.3 These rates lag far behind the WHO’s Global Nutrition Target goal for every country to have at least 50% of children breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months.4 The Coroflo team strives to support women worldwide in meeting these nutrition goals for the health of their babies.
What is Exclusive Breastfeeding and Why Is It Important?
Exclusive breastfeeding is when an infant consuming only breast milk and no other liquids or solids – not even water – with the exception of necessary medications.5 For babies, breast milk is not just a food, it is a rich source of all the nutrients and antibodies a baby will need to thrive and remain protected against disease and death.1,5 Helping mothers continue to exclusively breastfeed their baby can prevent nearly 823,000 deaths annually in children under five and an estimated 20,000 annual deaths from breast cancer in mothers.1
Recognizing the benefits of breastfeeding for both babies and their mothers, co-founders of Coroflo, Dr. Helen Barry and James Travers, created the first breast-feeding technology to measure how much breast milk a baby is consuming. Their unique concept added a micro-flow sensor to the pre-existing silicone nipple shield to track breast milk intake. The idea stemmed from their own need to determine whether their baby was getting enough breast milk. They brought the financially savvy Rosanne Longmore onboard and together embarked on the Coroflo journey.
To ensure their baby is receiving adequate nutrition, mothers often supplement breastfeeding with formula, or switch entirely. Coroflo strives to alleviate a mother’s anxiety surrounding insufficient milk supply by tracking milk consumption during feeds.
Designed to match the standard shield in both material and size, Coro is a silicone nipple shield with a patented microflow sensor at the base of the nipple. As the mother feeds her baby, the sensor collects data, sending it automatically to the app, giving real-time feedback on how much milk her baby is consuming.
Biggest Achievements to Date
The Coroflo team is deeply committed to supporting public health efforts and breastfeeding research, alongside launching the Coro product commercially. Their technology is currently being used in a clinical study at one of the largest maternity hospitals in Ireland, where researchers are examining the external and biological factors impacting breast milk supply. Longmore hopes that the use of Coro in research studies will help add to the academic body of knowledge and ultimately guide breastfeeding policy at the global level. To this end, the European Commission has also recognized the potential large scale public health impact of this technology, and recently awarded Coroflo a Horizon 2020 grant of €2.1 million.
After months of research and development, the biggest milestone for Longmore and the Coroflo team has been placing Coro into the hands of mothers in need. She excitedly described how mothers and babies are using Coro pre-launch and how willing they are to share their experiences with the team.
What Can We Expect from Coroflo in 2021
With user testing well underway, it is the upcoming launch of Coro that Longmore is most excited about. She believes there is nothing more rewarding than providing mothers with a product that will alleviate their anxiety and help them continue breastfeeding. Founded in Ireland, Longmore and her team are expecting to launch their product in Ireland and the United Kingdom later this year. Following the launch, they are looking to expand Coro to other countries, starting with those currently facing the highest rates of premature cessation of breastfeeding.
Women’s Health Tech Challenge and Beyond
When Longmore initially submitted her pitch deck for the Women’s Health Tech (WHT) Challenge, she never anticipated taking part in the competition, let alone receiving an award. The mission of the Women’s Health Tech Challenge is to identify and accelerate technologies that address unmet needs in women’s health. The Challenge is an essential element of The Women’s Health Tech Initiative, which aims to drive women’s health innovation through events, mentorship, networking and thought leadership.
Coroflo’s novel breastfeeding technology was recognized from over 120 applicants representing 24 countries to receive the Digital Dx Ventures Award last November. Longmore recalled the challenge as an eye-opening and enriching experience, giving her an opportunity to learn about and from numerous companies around the world. With Coroflo still in its early stages of launch at the time, she found the pitch competition particularly insightful.
The award gave Longmore the opportunity to establish a meaningful partnership with Michele Colucci, the Co-founder/Managing Partner of Digital Dx Ventures. Since the WHT Challenge, she has had numerous discussions with Colucci which have given her an in-depth understanding of how commercialization, launch, and investment differ between the US and European markets. These conversations have helped her become more familiar with the US commercial landscape. For Coroflo, it is essential to have a firm grasp of the commercial and regulatory timelines to successfully launch in the US. Through the WHT Challenge, Longmore was not only able to connect with a supportive sponsor, but also start building a network that will one day help her launch her product outside Europe.
Engage with emerging innovations and leaders in women’s health tech by joining HITLAB’s Women’s Health Tech Initiative today and learn how you can contribute to and advance the revolutionary world of FemTech!
About the Author
- Thompson G, Sidhu S. Why family-friendly policies are critical to increasing breastfeeding rates worldwide. 2019 Aug 01. Unicef.
- Key Breastfeeding Indicators. CDC. 2020 Sept 28.
- Breastfeeding in the UK. Unicef United Kingdom. Accessed March 10, 2021.
- Global Nutrition Targets 2025 Breastfeeding Policy Brief. WHO. 2014.
- Exclusive breastfeeding for optimal growth, development, and health of infants. WHO. 2019 Feb 11.
- Neifert M, Bunik M. Overcoming clinical barriers to exclusive breastfeeding. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2013 Feb;60(1):115-45.
- Breastfeeding Frequently Asked Questions. CDC. Last Updated 2020 May 28.
- Chow S, Chow R, Popovic M, et al. The Use of Nipple Shields: A Review. Front Public Health. 2015;3:236. Published 2015 Oct 16.