mHealth app for rural women lowers risk of low birth weight, improves prenatal outcomes

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In a study published in Telemedicine and e-Health, researchers tested the effectiveness of mobile health applications to improve early and ongoing prenatal care through engagement.

The study focused on pregnant women in rural areas of Wyoming with little access to prenatal care. Researchers aimed to show the benefits of using the WYhealth Due Date Plus pregnancy application. Pregnant Medicaid patients were used in the study where 85 registered for the app and 5,158 were assigned to the control group. Data was collected on how many times participants used the app, C-section rates, low birth weights and admission into the neonatal intensive care unit. These factors were used to analyze the association of app usages to birth outcomes.

Results showed that the app was downloaded 1,730 times, and users of the app had significant association with completion of their six month or more prenatal visit. The app was also shown in association with lowered risk of a baby with a low birth weight.

“Preliminary data indicate that Due Date Plus attracted an engaged user base and that app usage was associated with improvements in prenatal visit completion and reduced incidence of low-birth weight delivery,” concluded James Bush, MD, first author on the study and colleagues. “These promising results suggest broader implementation and further study of mobile applications for prenatal support.”