A demonstration of the bili-hutTM.
Credit: Little Sparrows Technologies
Severe neonatal jaundice is one of the most common reasons that newborns remain in or are readmitted to the hospital. Without adequate treatment, newborns are at risk of developing permanent brain damage that can result in cerebral palsy, deafness, and vision impairment. However, the treatment—high-intensity blue light phototherapy—usually takes place in a specialized neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), which interferes with parent-child bonding, causes stress for the family, and increases healthcare costs. Furthermore, families who live in rural areas or in developing countries may not have easy access to phototherapy.
The bili-hut™ offers portable phototherapy that can be used at the parent’s bedside at home or in a hospital, reducing healthcare costs and keeping newborns and their families together during treatment. The device delivers high-intensity phototherapy on par with NICU-intensity treatments. It is also lightweight, collapsible, easy-to-ship, and sufficiently energy efficient to operate with a battery. Easily cleanable with standard hospital sanitizing agents, the bili-hut™ is ideal for use in the hospital, at home, or in a variety of settings, including rural and resource-poor areas.
With small business funding from NICHD, Little Sparrows Technologies was able to develop and commercialize the bili-hut™. Support from NICHD began in 2014 and continued through 2019, when the company successfully applied for 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Since then, the device has been available commercially in the United States and internationally.
Devices like the bili-hut™, that enable at-home treatments for common conditions, are especially useful in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitalization can put patients and healthcare providers at risk for SARS-CoV-2 exposure, and visitor limitations can prevent newborns from interacting with their families. The bili-hut™ offers an effective and safe alternative to traditional treatment in the NICU.