Breastmilk has powerful nutrients and antibodies that help prevent life-threatening illnesses.
But not all babies are given the opportunity to have breast milk. In fact, less than 40 percent of babies worldwide under six months old are breast-fed.
In poorer regions of the world, this is due to birth deficiencies, such as cleft lip, that prevent the baby’s ability to suck.
Alternative ways to feed in many countries include spoons, bowls, hands or any container that could possibly hold liquid. This solution is weak and temporary, as the likelihood of choking is much greater.
Dr. Michael Cunningham of Seattle Children’s Hospital said, “We were devastated to learn that newborns with clefts were starving to death because they were unable to properly feed … we just knew that there had to be a simple intervention that could be life-changing for this population.”
That was when Cunningham created a tool that would forever change society. For many children, it was the difference between life and death.
Cunningham and others created the NIFTY – Neonatal Intuitive Feeding Technology – cup at PATH, a nonprofit health organization that drives transformative innovation to save lives.
The NIFTY cups have a small spout, which helps premature infants swallow milk in a safe way. They are currently in the process of being accessible in hospitals throughout Africa. Each cup costs $1.
At the Women Deliver conference in Copenhagen, inventors of the NIFTY cup announced that they would collaborate with Laerdal Global Health, a nonprofit manufacturing cooperation, to provide the cups in Africa by the end of this year.
The ultimate goal is to have the NIFTY cups available all over the world.
What an amazing difference for hundreds of thousands of children born with deficiencies who are being given the gift of life.