Rice University

Members of Team NutriflowThe Nutriflow Device2014 BMEStart Third place winner, winning $2,500

Improving nutrient delivery to infants in the NICU

The Nutriflow team has created a feeding system for infants in the NICU that increases the nutrients and fat content ultimately delivered. Each year in the US alone, 100,000 infants will require tube feeding. Current feeding systems lose up to half of the essential fat and fat-borne nutrients from mother’s milk during delivery. This fat is critical for infants to develop normally and grow into healthy children. With technologies today, fat from breast milk separates and is lost during delivery at two primary locations: the feed bag and the tubing. Their innovation, Nutriflow, consists of two microcontroller-programmed mixing mechanisms: an automatic milk bag inverter and a fluid circulation loop, that work to keep unhomogenized breast milk moving in both locations. Preliminary testing demonstrates Nutriflow consistently delivers 95% of fat in expressed breast milk to the infant, compared to 58% delivered by current hospital standards. Their device delivers these outcomes at a cost of just $2 more per use for hospitals, while adding less than three minutes setup time for nurses and minimizing additional risk factors for patients. The Nutriflow device increases the amount of fat delivered to the infant, thus increasing growth rates, shortening hospital stays, and ultimately improving long-term health outcomes.

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