Rosanne is the CEO of Coroflo, a brand new medical device that can help women accurately measure how much breast milk their baby is getting in every feed.
A revelation in the world of medicine, Coroflo’s device is set to change the way that maternity and breastfeeding will work forever.
As it stands, only about 13 per cent of women in Europe are breastfeeding for the recommended duration of six months but with the help of Coroflo, this problem can be easily resolved.
How did Coroflo come about?
So Coroflo came about as the brainchild of my friends and co-founders, Jamie and Helen. So their first baby was only two kilos full term. So not a premature baby, but just really small. Helen is a medical doctor, and she really wanted to breastfeed and was really concerned with this, you know, having such a small baby.
During her breastfeeding journey, that public health nurse was coming out to her house, the weighing scales were going on the kitchen table, and they were weighing the baby, feeding the baby, and weighing the baby again. Now Helen being a doctor, she knew that this wasn’t accurate. In fact, it’s not really recommended, especially in domestic environments, because of the inaccuracy, but there really is no alternative.
Her husband Jamie was actually working in micro flow sensing in another industry. They both started to search the market for a product that could tell them how much milk their baby was getting. No product existed. Because Jamie had been working in this area already, he started to look at the prior patent art that existed.
Jamie could see that a silicone nipple shield was the optimum solution. If you could fit a micro flow sensor in a shield as thin as a contact lens, this would be a very minimum barrier between mother and baby. So he spent two years developing the core technology. Then when we filed for the patent and it was granted, and he quit his job to go full time at Coroflo and so did I.
What are the recommendations for breastfeeding Rosanne? And why is it so difficult for us as women to meet those targets?
The World Health Organisation, recommends women to exclusively breastfeed for six months. This is because of the enormous health benefits of breastfeeding to baby modern society. But unfortunately, in Europe, only about 13 per cent of mothers reached the six month target, compared to 19 per cent in the United States and 26 per cent in China, so it’s really a global problem.
When they look at all the studies that examined the issue, one of the main reasons is concern regarding low supply. So mothers don’t know if their baby’s getting enough milk or any milk and they start to supplement with formula and they switch completely.
So what we want to do is, be able to show mothers that their baby is getting enough milk so thereby they have the confidence, reassurance, and accurate information to keep breastfeeding to their own breastfeeding goals.
In terms of breastfeeding, I know there are a lot of proven benefits when mothers choose breastfeeding over formulas. And again, it’s not for everyone and it’s everybody’s choice. But can you talk to us a little bit about the benefits of breastfeeding in general?
Oh, absolutely. So there’s actually over 2,000 independent clinical studies around the benefits of breastfeeding. So for children, it protects them against infections in you know, early on in their life, ear, nose, throat infections, and all the way through their life really. For mothers, they’re at a reduced risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, heart disease and stroke. So as these children and mothers go, you know, in society, the health benefits are enormous.
I think that’s really why we have diverse and extensive stakeholders, from governments and from the likes of the World Health Organisation. Even from medical professionals, be they doctors, midwives, nurses, lactation consultants, because the benefits are so clear.
What we need to do is try and address the main problems as to why women stop sooner than they want to. So you’re 100 per cent right. Breastfeeding is the choice of the mother.
In terms of when you first got started, and all three together, you know, you sat down and you were like, Okay, we have the idea. From the very start, what were those then from then until now, what have been your biggest challenges that you’ve had to overcome?
I think for any startup, money is always the big challenge at the start. Not every problem can be solved with money, but a lot of them, most of them, can be.
So yeah, definitely at the beginning, when Jamie and I went full time with coral flow, and it was getting investment. Actually, just by chance that this podcast is sponsored by LEO, they were the very first people ever to give us money. So before you can really raise from investors, you kind of have to show your prototype, as proof of concept they want. There are certain hurdles and achievements they expect you to overcome before investors will give money. Well, that was our experience.
So we went to LEO, and we applied for a feasibility grant. That actually paid for our first prototype. I was down there, you know, pitching and, you know, providing my business plan and that was the first bit of money. So that was huge. Once we had drawn that money, we were then eligible to move on to Enterprise Ireland.
What are your future goals and dreams? So in terms of Coroflo obviously, there is the global market there. Is it at market stage already? Or are you still getting to to that stage?
Yes, so we’re currently in clinical trials, and we’re hoping to launch the market next year. So our aims for the company would really be for Coroflo to be on the market and in the hands of every mother who needs it.
Women really love this product. And they want it. So that would be the key priority. Then separately to that, you know, the data that Coroflo records has never been recorded before! So in the world, it’s really, really valuable in terms of how it could potentially inform breastfeeding policy guidelines.
This data could really contribute insight into healthy populations and the health benefits of breastfeeding. So, you know, we work with our academic and research partners, and the clinical trials are in one of the largest maternity hospitals in Europe.
Coro can be used for all sorts of amazing research like exploring the external factors that impact breastfeed breastfeeding supply. For instance, if a mother’s BMI impacts a mother’s ability to breastfeed, or if a mother is on diabetes medication, does that impact her breastfeeding? So apart from our commercial aims, the academic and medical and body of knowledge that Cora can contribute to is immense. That’s also really exciting for us.