Preemie Sensor

Target Milk Fortification for an
Optimal Infant Nutrition

The End-to-end Solution to Target Milk Fortification

Preemie is a handheld system composed of a Near-InfraRed (NIR) spectrometer (the sensor), an AI computation engine operating in the cloud, a web-based dashboard, and a dedicated mobile application. The Preemie system tackles the problem of undernourishment in underweight infants, by providing reliable analysis of human milk composition and suggesting the target milk fortification for the infant.

The Preemie system is currently being validated by the department of Obstetrics & Gynaecology of the Sant’Anna Hospital (associated with the University of Turin, Italy) and it is undergoing the procedure to obtain CE Marking as an In Vitro Diagnostic (IVD) device.

Preemie System

What Preemie Can Measure

TOTAL PROTEIN

grams/100 mL

The content of actual protein is a key value for target milk fortification since it is the one contributing the most to the infant’s growth.

TOTAL LIPIDS

grams/100 mL

Fat is crucial for the development of the infant’s neurological system.

TOTAL CARBS

grams/100 mL

Carbohydrates — the sum of lactose and HMO — are crucial for energy intake and thus infant growth, but are also important to protect babies against pathogens and diseases.

LACTOSE

grams/100 mL

Lactose is the main sugar in milk, and provides most of the energy needed by the growing infant. It is a part of the total carbohydrates and is the nutritionally relevant sugar.

TOTAL HMOs

grams/100 mL

Oligosaccharides are unique to human milk. They are not digestible by the infant, but rather serve to feed the gut microbiome, which has many nutritional and health benefits.

ENERGY

kcal/100 mL

Caloric intake is key for the development of the baby and is calculated from the content of various components.

WATER

grams/100 mL

An excess of water is a warning of possible dilution of the milk at some point in the supply chain. Whether deliberate or accidental, it reduces the nutritive value of the milk.

FRESHNESS

Effective age in days

As milk ages it becomes less safe. How quickly it loses freshness depends on its temperature and handling. The effective age is correlated to total aerobic bacteria and determines the acceptability of the milk.

Beyond Milk Fortification

Preemie can measure spoilage, which allows milk banks and NICUs to monitor milk’s freshness. It can warn of problems with the storage and handling of the milk.

The system can track the nutrients in feedings and correlate them to growth. With that information a healthcare provider may adjust the required nutrition, and the app will update the target milk fortification of later feedings.

Preemie uses blockchain technology to keep a tamper-proof record of the history of the milk from origin through fortification to feeding.

All data is stored in accordance with the GDPR. In particular, infants are identified only by the code used by the NICU, so any other patient data required must come from there.

Target milk fortification, spoilage and traceability

How It Works

Preemie Sensor

1. THE PORTABLE SENSOR

After a short sample preparation, the operator just needs to put a few drops of milk into a cuvette, and insert it into the Preemie sensor. The sensor is portable and incorporates a miniature Near-InfraRed (NIR) spectrometer. Light is shone through the milk, and the wavelengths which emerge from it are separated into a spectrum. The various components of the milk affect different wavelengths in different ways. The spectrum is digitised and sent to the Preemie app.

Preemie cloud-based AI engine

2. THE AI COMPUTATION ENGINE

The spectrum of the milk is transmitted from the Preemie app to its analysis engine in the cloud. The system’s algorithms extract nutritional information from the spectrum and send it back to the app. The app displays the nutritional data as well as the recommended doses of fortifiers to be added to the milk in line with the specific needs of the infant over time. The cloud technology is highly flexible: new algorithms can be added and existing algorithms improved without any changes to the hardware or to the app.

Target milk fortification, spoilage and traceability

3. THE MOBILE AND DESKTOP APPLICATION

Preemie’s app runs on mobile devices. It operates the sensor and provides the user with analysis results and recommendations. It is designed to be used with one infant at any one moment. Preemie’s web application runs on larger screens, and is designed for looking at larger amounts of data. For example, the user can see an infant’s feeding and growth over time. One can review and choose nutritional guidelines to be used for fortification calculations. Each milk batch’s history as stored in the blockchain can be displayed.

Preemie Sensor Specification

Size116 mm x 77 mm x 42 mm
Weight500 g
Cuvette Well12.5 x 12.5 x 35 mm, Z-dimension 15 mm
Analytical MethodNear-infrared transmissive spectroscopy
Wavelength Range1350 nm to 2150 nm
Resolution (FWHM)10 nm
Illumination SourceOne integrated halogen tungsten lamp, 0.7 W
SNR> 5000:1 for 1-second scan
MonochromatorPlane grating and TI DMD DLP2010NIR, 854×480 pixels
DetectorSingle element 1 mm InGaAs detector, uncooled
Scan Pattern256 equally-spaced columns
Total Scan Time6 sec
ConnectivityBluetooth Low Energy (wireless)
Preemie AppiOS, Android, with Internet connection
Data FormatInternal, with CSV output
PowerUSB (500 mA @ 5 V) to charge integrated Li-ion battery
Ambient Temperature, operating+10°C to +40°C
Ambient Humidity, operating10 % to 80 % relative humidity, non-condensing

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 879228.

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