Spitting up—a.k.a. gastroesophageal reflux (GER) or acid reflux, affects up to 66 percent of infants by the time they’re 4 months old. GER can lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a more long-lasting form of GER, which is common in adults too.
If GER and GERD happen every now and then, no worries. But with every feeding? Yikes!
Priska Diaz knows first hand what a problem GER can be. Her son, Carlton, “was the gassiest baby on the planet,” Diaz says. The situation inspired her to start her company, Bittylab, in 2010 and invent the Bare Air-Free Baby Feeding System in 2016.
Read on to learn how this unique feeding system aims to reduce air-intake that causes the symptoms of GER and GERD, including gas, bloating, colic, spit-ups and crying.
GER and GERD, the Inside Story
Normally, the lower esophageal sphincter—the valve between the stomach and the esophagus (food tube)—functions like a one-way valve. It opens when your baby is swallowing breast milk, formula or “solids” then closes again. With GER and GERD, however, the valve isn’t fully developed so stomach contents can flow back up the esophagus.
GER and GERD can cause colic, coughing, gagging or trouble swallowing, vomiting, tummy pain, wheezing, trouble breathing. Babies with GER and GERD may arch their back during or right after feeding. They can be irritable too, especially after feeding.
Birth of a Feeding System for Babies with GER and GERD
Diaz noticed that baby Carlton seemed gassy only after he was fed from a bottle, so she went on the hunt for a better one. But every bottle she tried had air vents, either in the nipple or elsewhere, like in the back or with with intricate valve designs.
Nothing helped Carlton feel better. Could the air vents be introducing air into the bottle? Diaz had a hunch they did and decided to try to develop a better feeding system. After three years of research and development, the prototype Bare Air-Free Baby feeding system was born.
The Bare Air-free feeding system looks like a typical baby bottle, but operates like a syringe. To use it, you’ll pour breast milk or formula into the container, then expel the air before giving it to your baby. The Bare Air-free feeding system dispenses milk or formula from any position, even when your baby is sitting up. “The system works with suction, not gravity,” Diaz says.
It was a hit. In its first 48 hours online, the Bare Air-Free Baby Bottle scored $50,000 worth of sales, which paid for the research and development.
What Makes the Bare Air-Free Feeding System Different?
In this video (below), Diaz demonstrates the Bare Air-free feeding system prep and how it works to prevent infant GER/GERD.
“Gas is gone and so is acid reflux!”
After launching the Bare Air-Free feeding system, parents began leaving comments where the Bare Air-Free bottle is sold–on Walmart.com, BuybuyBaby.com and Amazon.
Not only was their baby’s gas gone, so was their baby’s acid reflux (GER/GERD).
Could the Bare Air-Free feeding system reduce the incidence of GER/GERD symptoms in infants 0 to 18 months old? Diaz teamed up with researcher Evelyn Ramirez-Coombs to find out. They launched a clinical study with 122 babies with GER/GERD symptoms. Parents were instructed to use the Bare Air-free feeding system, but make no other changes to their feeding routine.
After two weeks of using Bare Air-Free feeding system, babies with GERD experienced a 52 percent improvement in symptoms. Moreover, up to 75 percent of GERD babies scored well below the clinical cut-off for GERD after only two weeks. It can be said that the Bare Air-Free feeding system is clinically proven to significantly reduce acid reflux symptoms in 75 percent of babies in just two weeks.
The study also underscored Diaz’s initial hunch about bottle air infiltration systems. According to the study, “clinical observations indicated the persistence of air infiltration into the bottle, leading to gas build-up, pain, and worsening acid reflux upon ingestion.” This was also true for bottles with liners, Diaz says.
Next Up: Medical Device Designation (fingers crossed!)
The study results were so remarkable that Diaz is in the process of getting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to classify the Bare Air-free feeding system as a medical device. If all goes well, “we’ll be the first medical device that prevents and treats infant GERD,” Diaz says.
Consider: “$18 billion is spent on GERD treatment in the U.S.,” Diaz says. Medicines for GERD in babies include:
- H2 blockers, which decrease acid production.
- Proton pump inhibitors, which lower the amount of acid the stomach makes.Imagine a feeding system that would allow you to skip the need for these prescriptions for your baby? It’s possible.
Budding Parentpreneurs: Diaz’s Parting Advice
BPM: What’s the hardest thing you’ve learned about starting your own company and developing the Bare Air-Free feeding system?
Diaz: The business is 24/7. I have an advisory board and a board of directors but I’m the one pulling it altogether. Also, creating a business without funding has been challenging.
We (Diaz and her husband, Dana King) started this business with our own savings and we’re not getting paid. It takes a while to make a profit.
BPM: What’s the best thing about being a parentpreneur?
Diaz: Being able to work from home and be there Carlton, who is now 11 and my daughter, Adriana, 10.
Copyright Sandra Gordon Writing Resources LLC. This post contains affiliate links.