Team develops new treatment for jaundice

For parents who have children diagnosed with jaundice, that feeling of separation during treatment might be all too familiar.

Jaundice is the yellowish color seen in the skin of many newborns when a chemical called Bilirubin builds up in the baby’s blood.

And according to the CDC, up to 60% of all newborns are diagnosed with jaundice.

Nicole and Jake King just gave birth to two baby girls Adaline and Coralie.

However, shortly after they were born, the family was informed the girls Bilirubin levels were too high, meaning both babies were diagnosed with Jaundice.

“The first 30-seconds after she was born she did get placed on my chest but they were whisked away shortly after that,” says Nicole King.

The mother of two says, the girls were forced to stay in incubators treated by multiple application of blue-light phototherapy to break down the Bilirubin in their skin.

Left untreated, could cause brain damage.

“I would definitely feel more comfortable being able to swaddle them and hold them, rather than seeing them in a closed box,” says King.

And soon, for mothers like Nicole, that could be possible.

“This shows how Snug-Lit is a wearable garment,” says Alexa Jones, Co-Founder of TheraB Medical.

Meet Alexa Jones.

With what started as a simple engineering project during a class at Michigan State University.

Now 4-years later, has turned into a full-time job.

“Having someone tell you that they really want your product is enough to make you want to follow through and make it a reality,” says Jones.

Alexa and her teammates were faced with the task of designing a new care product for children born with Jaundice.

And that’s when the idea of Snug-Lit came to life.

A portable, battery powered blanket that provides blue-light phototherapy, 360-degrees around the baby.

Offering parents a chance to hold their child during treatment.

“The turning point for us was when we started talking to a lot of mothers and nurses who interact with this everyday and we were really hearing over and over that they really wanted this product,” says Jones.

So they turned their classroom project into a real-life prototype.

Visiting more than 10-hospitals for customer research, and along the way, meeting Dr. Said Omar, Director of Regional Neonatal Intensive Care at Sparrow Hospital, who brought a medical point of view to the groups manufacturing process.

“It was a simple idea, but has a good clinical application,” says Jones.

And with a little more testing, Dr. Omar tells 6-News, Snug-Lit could be an important asset to out-patient management.

Especially since it can take up to 2-3 weeks for the Jaundice to calm down.

Dr. Omar says when the degree of Jaundice is too high, current treatment options include an overhead blue light and an underneith billi-blanket to increase the coverage area, so a blanket like snug-lit, could replace both.

“You can have your child, and if grandma wants to hold the baby across the room, you just walk across and give the baby to grandma without having to cart around this entire device throughout your home,” says Jones.

Alexa believes, one advantage that kept her going is the bond it gives back to the parent and child.

“It gets rid of the separation that you would encounter if you’re child is in an incubator under the lights, or if they have several billi-blankets around them it’s really difficult to hold them and nurture them and breast-feed,” says Jones.

But one of the biggest benefits, is newborns wouldn’t have to wear protective eye-covering during treatment.

A benefit, Nicole agrees, would be nice to have.

“It would be amazing, considering the fact that I still have not held her, she was born on saturday and i still haven’t held her, I saw her face for the first time yesterday but dad’s the only one that’s held her,” says King.

Within the last year, Alexa and her team have been finishing product development, narrowing down the best designs to build a new prototype.

Their goal, to see Snug-Lit in hospitals and homes around the world by the beginning of next year.

Because they believe, the first few moments of your child’s life, should be in your arms.

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