Dublin based start-up Coroflo combines microtechnology and innovative medical research to improve the lives of mothers and babies. Rosanne Longmore, CEO introduces us to their revolutionary product, Coro.
Coro measures breast milk volume so when necessary, mothers can know exactly how much milk their baby is getting thereby addressing one of the main reasons’ women stop breastfeeding sooner than planned, ‘concern regarding low supply’.
Scientific research continues to show the significant benefits of breastfeeding. Studies show that breastfed babies have fewer infections and premature breastfed babies have a reduced rate of serious gastrointestinal complications. Breastfeeding has been associated with a decreased risk of developing ovarian and breast cancers. Because of these enormous benefits, the World Health Organization recommends mums to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months. However, globally less than 40% achieve this target. For example, in the UK 81% of mothers initiate breastfeeding however by 6 months only 1% of mothers exclusively breastfeed and this trend is mirrored around the world.
So we need to ask ourselves why? Why do so many women stop breastfeeding sooner than planned? ‘Concern regarding low supply’ is one of the main reasons given by mothers. Studies show that many women, even when provided with information about monitoring wet nappies, are not confident enough to recognise when their baby has gotten enough milk.
The statistics are surprising, for example, in Germany, 95% of mothers give this as the reason for stopping, 64% in Italy and 36% of Irish mothers. And it makes sense, for mothers who bottle feed their baby, they know exactly the amount a baby gets and this is hugely reassuring. However, for breastfeeding mothers, this reassurance simply does not exist.
Coro is a revolutionary product which solves this problem. Coro is a silicone nipple shield with an inbuilt microflow sensor. Mothers wear Coro like a regular shield, as baby feeds, the quantity of milk is measured and the data can be tracked on mum’s phone via the app.
Coro is the only product that can give accurate, precise, and real-time data.
Coroflo came about following a personal need by my co-founders, Chief Research Officer Dr Helen Barry and Chief Technology Officer Jamie Travers. They were parents of a tiny newborn and experienced anxiety over the quantity of milk their baby was getting, they looked for a product that could help them and we surprised that none existed. Over many late dinners together, we realised that this was a problem experienced by many of our friends, we saw an opportunity and the idea was born.
Taking a step back for a moment, you’ve a strong background in project management. Could you give us an insight into this and how it’s been relevant when establishing such a unique start-up as Coroflo?
Prior to Coroflo, my career centred around project management within the financial services sector. Although some might think this industry would not equip me to build a start-up, the reality is that I was managing teams, budgets and schedules to develop, and execute strategies that ensured complex projects were successfully delivered. I feel this skill-set has lent itself well to a fast-growing start-up.
Every successful start-up is the product of a strong team and we believe the diversity in our expertise and industry experience has been key to our success. Our small team have backgrounds in medicine, engineering and finance. This gives our investors’ confidence that we can cover all aspects and functions to get the business up and running, to overcome barriers and stay ahead of the competition.
And now you’re leading a company creating a revolutionary breastfeeding product!
Yes, it’s been quite a journey. We have achieved significant progress in our research and development phase. We want Coro to help drive the substantial health benefits of breastfeeding to baby, mother and society. In this respect, we were proud to receive grant funding from the EIC Horizon 2020 fund in 2019. This funding has allowed us develop our technology and also fund a clinical study in one of the largest maternity hospitals in Europe. With this clinical validation, mothers will know for sure that they have a reliable product in Coro.
We’re particularly excited about the next phase of journey, the launch of Coro in 2022 and growing and scaling the company throughout Europe and the rest of the world.
So does the Coro replace current approaches or products that are already available?
Mothers that are currently successfully feeding may never use Coro. But for mothers who are unsure if their baby is getting enough milk or have a concern over their baby’s weight, the current methods include weighing babies, pre-and post-feed weighing and attempting to estimate milk transfer amount; but accuracy of this method outside of a clinical study setting is questionable.
Pumping milk to get idea of production is done but using a machine rather than a baby results in lower volumes so this is not an accurate measure.
Typically, lactation assistance is the first point of contact for all women who have concern in breastfeeding. These specialists are able to professionally assess any problems and guide ways to optimise supply and help mothers with any reversible issues. We see Coro is an additional information tool for women and not in any way a replacement for lactation support.
Our primary aim is to provide accurate, real-time information to mothers so they can make the best decision for themselves in feeding their baby.
If Coro helps the women who would otherwise stop or add formula either to reassure her that her supply is adequate or to flag for her to access lactation support to improve supply; then the value is clear.
For those for who want or need to know real time milk volume, those whose baby not gaining weight or those that might switch to formula due to milk supply concern; Coro may be the difference between breastfeeding or not.
And what about other products that are already available – is it a competitive market that you’re entering?
Currently, there is no commercially available product in the world that can accurately measure breast milk flow. Many others have tried to solve the problem but essentially the micro technology didn’t exist. For us, it was the right idea with the right technology within the form of a nipple shield.
Nipple shields are commonly used around the world for many different indications. It has been the combination of modern materials with patented technology which will allow us to provide mothers with accurate, precise and real-time data.
You’ve been receiving plenty of positive press attention and achieving lots of success in the innovation space. It must all be very exciting.
We’re launching to the market in 2022 with the go-live to be announced shortly. We are proud of the support and accolades we’ve received so far, but for us the real goal is to get Coro into the hands of mothers who need it. We want to empower every woman who wishes to breastfeed to do so.
Aside from our business aims, we believe that we have a valuable role to play in the medical research space. We hope that the research studies conducted using the Coro will add to the academic body of knowledge and be of enormous benefit at a broader medical and societal level, guiding policy development in strategies to increase breastfeeding rates globally.
Detailed information on Coroflo and its revolutionary breastfeeding monitor, complete with explainer and instruction videos, and updated news, can be found on the company website