WebMD, STSI launch a ResearchKit-based study to what contributes to healthy pregnancies

webMD Pregnancy app - study

WebMD and Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) have teamed-up to launch the ResearchKit-based Healthy Pregnancy Study to improve researchers’ and health care professionals’ understanding of what contributes to healthy pregnancies and positive pregnancy outcomes. The study will use WebMD’s newly redesigned and enhanced Pregnancy app for iPhone, with ResearchKit enabling survey participants to easily and anonymously answer questions, and share connected device data about their pregnancies with researchers for analysis.

“Pregnant women are one of the least studied populations in medical research,” Dr. Eric Topol, director of STSI and editor-in-chief of Medscape, said in a statement. “The results of our Healthy Pregnancy Study — on the foundation of an exceptionally popular smartphone app — will ultimately provide expectant mothers, researchers, and health care professionals with new medical insights to avoid complications during pregnancy.”

Participants in the Healthy Pregnancy Study will be asked to share information about their medication use, vaccinations they may have received during pregnancy, pre-existing conditions, blood pressure and weight change, diagnoses during pregnancy, as well as childbirth location, among other details. Also, they will be able to share biometric data, including the number of steps and amount of sleep from their connected devices. After they give birth, participants will be asked for even more information, including provider insights and interventions, and birth size of the baby. In return, the app will give users visualizations of their data trends throughout pregnancy, and later on, it will allow users to compare their data with that of other pregnant women who share their traits.

WebMD’s medical editor and in-house pediatric expert Dr. Hansa Bhargava remarked on the study’s ability to advance research. “We will collect large amounts of diverse data that can help scientists and doctors to better understand factors that contribute to healthy pregnancies. Ultimately, this will help moms have healthy pregnancies and have healthier babies,” she said.

According to the CDC, each year in the United States, 65,000 women have severe pregnancy complications. Despite medical advances, the rate of pregnancy-related deaths in the United States has increased over the past 25 years, with chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and obesity making women more likely to have pregnancy complications.