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UW CSE + PATH: “Banking breast milk for babies”

PATH_HumanMilkBanking_Infant[1]One project resulting from a collaboration between UW CSE and Seattle-based global health organization PATH is a lifesaving low-cost intervention to save newborn babies using mobile phones and donated breast milk.

Each year, more than 3.3 million newborns die within their first month of life.  Working with UW CSE Ph.D. student Rohit Chaudhri, PATH has developed a unique, low-cost system that uses mobile phones to manage safe pasteurization of breast milk.

Heat pasteurization kills potential pathogens in donated milk, such as HIV and hepatitis, while retaining the milk’s nutritional and immunological benefits.  It is a critical but expensive step in human milk banking.  Commercial-grade pasteurizers can cost up to $60,000, preventing many hospitals from establishing a milk bank.  The UW/PATH system allows health care providers in neonatal units to monitor the pasteurization process in real-time on their mobile phones, ensuring that the milk is heated safely and consistently every time even when commercial-grade equipment is not available.

See a recent PATH press release (which, er, doesn’t bother to mention UW) here.  Learn about Rohit Chaudhri and his work here – his FoneAstra project, supported by a Gates Grand Challenge award, is the key to the breast milk pasteurization effort.

January 20, 2013