Approximately 60% of all babies have jaundice according to the CDC. Mild cases of jaundice in newborns go away in a few weeks, but higher levels of bilirubin, a substance that indicates jaundice severity, may require treatment. The most common treatment for newborn jaundice is phototherapy. Light therapy exposes the baby to blue-green spectrum light to alter bilirubin so the baby can excrete it. When a baby needs phototherapy, the physician generally recommends the child stay under the light as much as possible, preferably anytime the baby is not feeding. In some cases, the baby is naked during phototherapy except for eye protection. In other cases, a rigid light-emitting plate is placed between the infant’s body and blanket.

East Lansing, Michigan startup TheraB Medical is developing SnugLit, a wearable phototherapy garment. Designed to provide 360-degree light coverage, the SnugLit reduces the time the baby and mother or other caregiver are separated in the first weeks of the baby’s life. According to TheraB Medical, current light and light blanket technologies interfere with mother-baby bonding and require continual supervision, which is an inefficient use of healthcare staff and stressful for all.

The SnugLit portable design includes a rechargeable battery pack that can be used in the hospital and at home. Because the SnugLit is a flexible wrap, it aids accessibility for bonding with kangaroo care and during breastfeeding.

Three separate pieces make up the SnugLit. A reusable light pad produces high-intensity blue light phototherapy. The light pad has a soft surface disposable cover that makes direct contact with the baby’s skin. The third and outer layer is a washable and breathable cotton swaddle that wraps completely around the newborn’s body.

Because the SnugLit is still in development, TheraB has submitted it to the FDA for clearance to market in the United States. Assuming the SnugLit does gain approval as some point, it may be by prescription only for cases of jaundice within a specific bilirubin range. It could provide a more convenient and less-intrusive approach than current treatments.