Tiny Health, a gut health testing company, has secured $4.5M in funding to launch the first at-home microbiome gut test to help parents monitor and optimize babies’ gut health development from conception onwards. The round is led by TheVentureCity, a global early stage venture fund investing in product-centric startups across the US, Europe and LatAm.
Keeping track of an infant’s microbiome enables families to take action to reduce and reverse risks for eczema, allergies, asthma, autism and other chronic diseases later in life. Tiny Health offers at-home tests for babies 0-3 years of age, as well as for expecting moms and those trying to conceive.
The company processes all tests in a CLIA-certified lab with state-of-the-art shotgun metagenomics sequencing technology, which is a huge advancement from the PCR-based gut tests normally prescribed at a physician’s office. Using this technology, Tiny Health is able to provide strain-level precision and a comprehensive list of all gut and vaginal microbes including bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, and archaea, and their relative abundance, which can help scientists better understand their role in a healthy body. Every report includes a personalized review by a team of microbiome experts, and evidence-based recommendations on how parents can improve the gut health of their children, as well as optimize their own for the benefit of their family.
More than 40% of American school-aged children have at least one chronic disease, and this number may be higher when it comes to babies and toddlers. As 80% of the human immune system lies in the gut and is programmed in the first 1,000 days of a person’s life, researchers are turning toward early microbiome development for answers.
Multiple studies have demonstrated the link between a healthy early microbiome and a reduced risk of immune disorders, such as eczema and food allergies in babies. Tiny Health founder, Cheryl Sew Hoy, encountered this connection first-hand when she gave birth to her first child via a C-section. She suspected that her baby had a disrupted microbiome at birth as her child subsequently suffered from eczema and food allergies. Understanding the relationship between an infant’s microbiome and immune development, Cheryl strived to restore her baby’s gut and reduce the severity of allergies. But there were no baby gut health tests on the market to keep track of the progress.
A healthy infant gut and a healthy adult gut look very different. Tiny Health noticed that healthcare providers and integrative health practitioners were using gut health tests that are meant for adults on children, which may not give accurate insights. Tiny Health was developed to fill this gap and give parents direct access to the testing platform, specially tailored for each pediatric age group.
“Our primary customers are parents who are looking to understand the root causes of their child’s colic, sleep struggles, digestive or immune-mediated issues… not just be handed more prescriptions,” says founder Cheryl Sew Hoy. “Parents can be empowered by a better understanding of what’s going on in their baby’s gut, giving them greater control over their family’s health, guided by the latest research. We believe that our evidence-based insights can help improve health outcomes of future generations.”
“Tiny Health is the first-ever startup to develop a gut test specifically for expecting parents and infants,” says Laura González-Estéfani, Founder and CEO of TheVentureCity. “We see it as an untapped niche with great potential for growth in a $12.5 billion market that will flourish over the next few years. Tiny’s consumer platform is also in a unique position to generate potentially groundbreaking research on infants’ microbiomes, which could contribute to better prediction, prevention and treatment down the line.”
Tiny Health started with over 3,000 baby samples to inform reference ranges and condition biomarkers. Other existing stool tests use adult reference ranges, which paint quite a different picture when used on babies and young children. As Tiny Health grows, their sample base grows with it. The company is striving to assemble the largest repository of early-life microbiome data, highlighting the connection between mothers’ and babies’ microbiome health. Tiny Health also offers vaginal microbiome health tests for pregnant women, as well as those trying to conceive.
Tiny Health has built an extensive repository of evidence-based recommendations, personalized for each user – such as foods they could add to their diet, or types of probiotic they could take. The company is working on an annual membership product to offer parents year-round support around their child and whole family’s gut health.