60% of all newborns and 80% of all preterm babies develop neonatal jaundice or hyperbilirubinemia. This is a physiological process due to the lower processing performance of the liver in the first week of life. Still, 14 million babies need treatment to prevent potential complications. Yearly 100,000 newborn suffer yearly from hazardous hyperbilirubinemia, associated with neurological damage or death. Current method is blue light phototherapy, to break down Bilirubin, before becoming toxic to the brain. Illuminating the baby’s skin with the blue spectrum light has been proven over decades. However, common practice requires to place the baby in an open cod or incubator, naked, with goggles in the neonatal intensive care or special care nursery of the hospital. Newer advances cover the baby in a light blanket, still needing goggles and most of the time stationary placed with exclusive moments to hold the child. The consequences is, that child and parents are physically separated, disrupting the establishment of exclusive breastfeeding and sleeping cues of otherwise healthy newborn. The natural way of carrying and soothing a crying child is nearly impossible during the treatment. Not to forget the impactful therapeutic kangaroo mother care for preterm newborn, which is distracted by traditional phototherapy care. In essence, the parents and baby are in most cases hospitalized. Main culprit of this are the missing treatment solutions, which are suitable for safe parents use under observation of a health care professional.
Per year the number of babies eligible for phototherapy in Europe is 240.000, in South East Asia is 1.400.000 and US 309.000. Beside true family centric care in the hospital, a considerable number of babies Bilihome aims to enable the experience natural care at home.
Bilihome offers uncompromised bonding with wearable blue light therapy for jaundiced newborn and parents. Bilihome is the user driven innovation that enables safe and effective phototherapy treatment at hospitals and home. A solution works on the principle of blue light therapy with a high irradiance output, placed in a comfortable smart wearable. Newborns will enjoy a gentle and optimal treatment for their jaundice, while parents are easily able to hold the baby, breastfeed and, do diaper change, as they normally would do. Allowing freedom to carry the newborn despite treatment, trigger the urge to do the therapy at home. For hospitals it brings the opportunity to free up bed space. The certified baby friendly hospital initiative benefits from lowering the burden of performance indicators like exclusive breastfeeding at discharge or therapeutic skin to skin care for preterm babies. The new way to apply phototherapy helps nurses to become a coach for the parents to become comfortable with the care even in the hospital. This may impact workload and satisfaction with these particular patients.
The initial system technology is patented and further IP protection is on its way. Considering feedback of clinical and non-clinical stakeholders in the newborn care path, Bilihome B.V. has focused the last couple of months on the iteration of minimal necessary design elements and their technological feasibility. Great progress has been made. In parallel the team worked intensely on the initiation of the product development as a medical device class IIa including the alignment of the Quality Management System with a system development partner.
The MOMENTUM fund gave Bilihome B.V. great momentum (powered by NLC, the European Healthcare Venture Builder). The next step is to secure additional funding, to capture the full product development up to the clinical evaluation to demonstrate the patient safety as a pre-condition for future regulatory approval.
Taco van der Feltz
Venture Partner at NLC
A highly international and networked entrepreneur trained as Medical Doctor and Medical Biologist, he is a visionary strategist conversant within and across disciplines. As Venture Partner, his focus is on building innovative companies and strengthening NLC’s abilities to bring innovations to healthcare.