Chicago startup aLoo has created a patent-pending product aimed at new parents: A device that prevents bacteria from a baby’s backwash from contaminating breast milk.

Here’s the issue: Once a baby’s saliva is mixed with breast milk, the milk can be contaminated with bacteria and become unsafe for the baby to drink within a matter of hours. The Center for Disease Control recommends parents avoid using leftover breast milk from a previous feeding for a later feeding.

Aarti Mehta (Credit: aLoo/Kickstarter)

Any waste of the liquid makes it harder for parents to feed their infant nutrient-rich breast milk, which can help prevent obesity, diabetes, respiratory and ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to the CDC. And for parents like aLoo founder Aarti Mehta, who had difficulty producing enough breast milk for her daughter Ariadna, the frustration over wasting any of the milk (which she calls “liquid gold”) is increased.

aLoo addresses this problem through a patent-pending device that sits between the bottle and the nipple, trapping the backwash before it contaminates the rest of the milk. In microbiological lab testing, aLoo was able to prevent more than 99 percent of bacteria from flowing back into the bottle.

The aLoo device also has an anti-colic vent to help reduce excess air ingestion. It’s dishwasher safe, compatible with multiple bottles on the market and will retail for $14.99. aLoo launched a Kickstarter campaign earlier this month and hit its $15,000 crowdfunding goal within a week.

While there are bottles on the market that address multiple issues with bottle feeding including anti-colic and preventing backwash, such as the Bare Air-Free Bottle, Mehta, who is a clinical psychiatrist focused on women’s health and post-partum depression, was surprised to find that there wasn’t a product on the market that just focused on this specific problem and could work with multiple bottles. She worked out of mHUB, the new hub for hardware entrepreneurs and makers, to create a 3D printed prototype, and expects to deliver the final product to Kickstarter backers by November of this year.

“If we can make it easier for parents to re-use breast milk instead of reflexively dumping it down the drain, then I think we can make a difference in the lives of many babies,” Mehta said over email.