Beth Jackson-Gagne, AG95

Photo: Perry Smith

When Beth Jackson-Gagne’s son Luke was diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in 2004, the occupational therapy graduate had no idea it would lead her to become an inventor and entrepreneur.

Nearly 10 percent of babies suffer from GERD, a condition that interferes with sleeping and eating and often causes constant crying. If the symptoms aren’t alleviated by keeping the baby upright while feeding and sleeping, stomach acid can erode the esophagus.

After trying infant sleep-positioning systems that failed to hold Luke in place, Jackson-Gagne decided to design a better product. Success was immediate: Luke was finally sleeping.

Encouraged by other occupational therapists and sleep-deprived parents, Jackson-Gagne realized she had a marketable idea. In collaboration with Daniel Hannon at the Tufts University School of Engineering, she spent a year perfecting the design and putting it through safety tests while crafting a business plan and locating a manufacturer.

Today, Jackson-Gagne is the founder of Baby Stay Asleep, which in its first two years has garnered rave reviews. She plans to expand the company to include systems for premature infants, twins, and triplets.

“At Tufts, I was trained to adapt environments to make people more independent and successful, so creating solutions comes naturally,” she says.

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