Tech Inspirations

Just Milk

Just Milk Need

Each year over three million babies die within the first month after birth. Most of these deaths are easily preventable by early administration of drugs or nutrients. Traditional liquid formulas are costly and have refrigeration requirements that most women in developing countries do not have access to. Women need a safe way to transmit necessary vitamins and medicines to children to prevent malnutrition, and diseases such as malaria and HIV. In fact, approximately 200,000 babies acquire HIV every year through breastfeeding, accounting for 40% of mother-to-child HIV transmission cases.

Succeed JustMilk is developing a low-cost Nipple Shield Delivery System (NSDS) to administer drugs or nutrients to breastfeeding infants in a safe, effective manner. A wide-range of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) could be delivered to infants using the NSDS, and the team is working to ensure NSDS will soon be a major tool in the global fight against malnutrition, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and other health crises. The NSDS is a simple tool to effectively fight these health crises. A caregiver places the JustMilk shield over her breast before feeding her child. Inside the shield is a rapidly dispersible tablet. As milk passes through the insert, it picks up and delivers the medicine to the infant. Use of the NSDS would empower a breastfeeding mother by allowing her to personally administer medicines in a natural setting.

Success Story JustMilk received a grant in 2013 from the Saving Lives at Birth Challenge, is currently conducting research to inform the design, marketing, and eventual delivery of the device. In 2014, JustMilk began user acceptability studies with mothers at the University of Venda in South Africa to answer questions like: should the device be disposable or prefilled with medicines, how should it be packaged, and would its use generate stigma for users—and if so—how can that be prevented? The team has now set up the company JustMilk to develop the device, and began non-clinical user acceptability trials in South Africa in autumn 2014.

About the Founder

JustMilk was co-founded by Dr. Stephen Gerrard and Geoff Galgon. The team came together at the International Development Design Summit (IDDS) at the MIT D-Lab in 2008. The IDDS is a function of the International Development Innovation Network (IDIN), which is a consortium of institutions aiming to improve science, technology, and innovation for development. Students at the MIT D-Lab are working diligently to ensure the success of the technology via thorough prototyping and testing. They are certain that with further testing and funding, the Nipple Shield will effectively combat the health crises facing newborns in developing countries around the globe.