NFANT Labs, Boston Children’s, Harvard to study neonatal brain injury

The nfant Feeding Solution is used to determine if infants are ready to move from tube feeding to bottle feeding. The partners are investigating its use as a tool to detect brain injury. (NFANT Labs)

Sensitivity and cost concerns plague current technology that detects brain injury in newborns. NFANT Labs, Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School are joining forces to investigate a link between feeding performance and neonatal brain injury.

Specifically, the trio will study neonatal sucking patterns as an indicator of neurodevelopment. The team, led by Christos Papadelis, lead investigator of the Children’s Brain Dynamics Research Group and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, will use magnetoencephalography to find a clear association between early feeding patterns and brain abnormalities, according to a statement.

The partners will use the nfant Feeding Solution in their project. It’s a smart baby bottle that measures an infant’s tongue motion on its nipple and wirelessly transmits this data to a mobile app. It helps determine if an infant’s tongue is strong enough to transition from tube feeding to bottle or breast feeding. The FDA cleared the device in 2015.

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Neonatal feeding screening could help identify at-risk infants early, so caregivers may identify brain injury and intervene sooner rather than later, NFANT Labs said in the statement.

"NFANT Lab's data-driven cloud solutions are shifting the standard of care in the NICU for infant feeding screening and intervention," said NFANT COO Tommy Cunningham in the statement. "This partnership with leaders in the scientific community will further demonstrate the value of nfant Feeding Solution beyond just feeding disorders and help patients with underlying neurodevelopmental issues typically not detected until early childhood."