Alumna Christy McKinney (PhD, Epidemiology ’06) spearheaded the development of a new feeding cup for preterm infants and newborns with cleft palates – infants who commonly have breastfeeding difficulties.
Working with Seattle-based PATH and Seattle Children’s Hospital Craniofacial Center, McKinney, now a clinical assistant professor of Oral Health Sciences at the University of Washington, developed a low-cost cup with a tiny reservoir that allows infants to feed at their own pace.
“If they’re born below 35 weeks of age, they don’t have a developed suck-swallow breath mechanism and they don’t have the maturity to successfully breastfeed,” McKinney told KING 5 News. “They need a tool to help them transition from feeding without the breast to feed with the breast.”
The Neonatal Intuitive Feeding Technology, or NIFTY™ cup, recently received a Saving Lives at Birth Grand Challenge award to conduct validation tests and develop a business strategy.
McKinney led initial user tests at Sri Ramachandra University in South India with collaborators Drs. Umamaheswari B and Jyotsna Murthy.