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Student & Alumni Achievements

Student & Alumni Achievements

Washington Alumna Develops New Feeding Cup for Infants with Breastfeeding Difficulties

Dr. Christy McKinney (PhD,  epidemiology ’06), a graduate of the University of Washington School of Public Health, spearheaded the development of a new feeding cup for preterm infants and newborns with cleft palates – infants who commonly have breastfeeding difficulties.

Christy McKinney
[Photo: Photo: Dr. Christy McKinney with Dr. Umamaheswari B]

Working with Seattle-based PATH and Seattle Children’s Hospital Craniofacial Center, Dr. 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,” Dr. McKinney said. “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.

Dr. McKinney led initial user tests at Sri Ramachandra University in South India with collaborators Drs. Umamaheswari B and Jyotsna Murthy.

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