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Improving Preterm Infant Health Through AI

Astarte Medical has raised $5 million in a series A round to develop tools standardize feeding, optimize nutrition and quantify gut health in premature infants.

Astarte Medical is working to protect the lives of newborns much like the goddess its name is derived from. The Yardley, PA-based company is focused specifically on premature babies and hopes to improve their health outcomes through the use of artificial intelligence and electronic health records.

On Tuesday, executives from Astarte Medical spoke with MD+DI about the company’s mission and the $5 million raised during a series A financing.

The company was founded in April of 2016 by venture capitalists and serial entrepreneurs Tracy Warren and Tammi Jantzen, Together, they are applying their expertise and business acumen to the vision of Katherine Gregory, PhD, RN, the company's scientific co-founder.

Tammi and I have worked together the last 18 years,” Warren, who also serves as CEO for Astarte, told MD+DI. “We really started our career together in early stage VC in the greater Philadelphia region. About six years we decided that we wanted to continue working together and really focus our energies on an area that was of personally of interest to us, which is women and infant health.”

Every year, more than 380,000 babies are born prematurely in the U.S. The first 1,000 days of life are a critical period for a baby's growth and brain development – particularly for preterm infants – and maintaining a healthy gut is crucial during this time. The rapid changes in the microbiome during this period make it challenging for NICU teams to treat infants with a highly personalized level of care.

“We’re surviving kids as early as 22 weeks gestation in the nation’s top centers,” Warren said. “The challenge we have is while we’ve gotten very good at fixing things like the heart and the lung, we’re really struggling to help these kids grow and develop through nutrition and feeding. What we’ve done at Astarte Medical and what [our] platform seeks to do is to improve the gut … and to use technology and software that’s available in the clinic to help inform and empower clinicians who are caring for these very tiny babies.”

Warren said by improving growth and brain development, that the company believes in these early formative stages, primarily in the first 1,000 days of life, that there can be an improvement in health outcomes; reduction in the length of stay for these kids; and overall improvement in a preterm child’s trajectory for lifelong health.

The financing will be used to help develop the firm’s NICUtrition suite of products. Investors in the round include Viking Global Investors LP, Lunsford Capital, OCA Ventures, Keiretsu Forum MidAtlantic, Keiretsu Capital Fund, Ben Franklin Technology Partners, Wing VC and Next Act Fund.

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