Reducing Nutrient Losses in Infants


Member profile details

Membership level
2013-2014 Team
Team Name
Project Title
Reducing Nutrient Losses in Infants
Design Challenge
We are senior bioengineering and global health technology students at Rice University designing an enteral feeding pump system that homogenizes breast milk and reduces fat adherence to walls to improve nutrient delivery to premature infants. This improved system will increase the growth rates, survival rates, and long-term health of infants in the U.S. Our overall goal is to create a system that reduces the nutrient loss in tube-feeding methods for implementation in the neonatology ward in Texas Children’s Hospital.
Design Summary
Our device,Nutriflow, has an inversion and tubing recirculation system to ensure that milk is constantly mixed within the feeding bag and the tubing. The motorized inversion system can be attached to a 1000mL Kangaroo bag with a series of clamps. A top clamp will attach the system to the bag, and bottom clamp will prevent milk from leaking into the top portion of the bag and decrease the surface area that the milk touches. Three inversions will occur every three minutes to prevent fat separation. The tube recirculation system will recirculate fresh milk into the tube every 5 minutes to remove fat from tubing walls and bring mixed milk closer to the infant. A valve will control the direction of the flow and shut off flow to the baby when recirculation occurs. Small bore tubing is used in our device to also decrease the surface area in contact with the milk and to also decrease the volume of milk sitting the tubing.

Preliminary tests analyzing fat content using IR spectroscopy over a one hour feed suggested that our initial prototype successfully increase fat delivered to >80% without significantly affecting protein or carbohydrate content. Based on this information, we modified our design to reduce fat loss even further, including using small bore tubing. We also surveyed nurses at TCH to learn how to optimize our design ergonomically and to ensure that our finalized prototype can be incorporated efficiently into this environment. Extensive in vitro testing was performed on the final prototype in a similar manner in order to demonstrate statistically significant reductions in fat loss. From testing, the Nutriflow was able to increase fat delivery to 95.1±6.12%. We are currently working on a manuscript to publish our results and seeking a provisional patent for our system.
This project was funded through Beyond Traditional Borders which is made possible by a grant to Rice University from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute through the Undergraduate Science Education Program. The design work for this project was supported by the resources of the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen.
Sponsor Logo
  • Global Health Technologies
  • Bioengineering
Faculty Advisor 1 - Name
Eric Richardson
Faculty Advisor 1 - Department
  • BIOE
Faculty Advisor 2 - Name
Maria Oden
Faculty Advisor 2 - Department
  • BIOE
Award(s) and Recognition
- 2014 Brown School of Engineering Design Showcase and Poster Competition: Best Health-Related Engineering Design Award

- Rice University Outstanding Bioengineering Design Project Award
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Contact us

Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen
Rice University

6100 Main Street MS 390 | Houston, Texas | 77005

Phone: 713.348.OEDK


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