Newswise — Women need to maintain good health years before they become pregnant. After all, healthy women are most likely to give birth to healthy babies. A web-based app, www.healthymomshra.com, can now help women gauge the level of their health and learn what changes they can make to enhance not only their own wellbeing, but also the health of any babies born to them in the future.
“Our goal with the app is to encourage good health practices in women so they will be healthy for pregnancies, planned or unplanned,” said Adam T. Perzynski, PhD (Twitter: @ATPerzynski), director of the Patient Centered Medical Lab, and a sociologist with the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and MetroHealth Center for Health Care Research and Policy team, that developed the Healthy Moms Health Risk Assessment prototype at www.healthymomshra.com.
Much infant mortality can be traced to low birth weight or early gestational birth age of newborns, which is often related to the poor health of the mother. The developers of the web-based app sought to help women reverse the major risk factors that negatively affect them in the categories of health habits, social support, driving safety, substance use, tobacco use, mental health, physical health, environmental risks, ethnicity, age and neighborhood of residence.
The online Healthy Moms Health Risk Assessment features a user-friendly test where each question, regardless of a yes or no answer, is greeted with encouraging, helpful tips across the categories of health risks. All answers are based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines firmly grounded in scientific evidence. The test concludes with a report of the woman’s individual health risk in the categories. The report is color coded from green to red, so the more green the report, the better the test-taker’s health.
“The main difference with this app is that it focuses on the preconception phase rather than exclusively on pregnant women,” Perzynski said. “Up to 50 percent of pregnancies are unplanned, so it’s important that a woman engage in healthy behaviors to prepare for the fact that she might become pregnant at some point.”
Armed with latest wellness information from CDC for women, the Case Western Reserve team used flexible and scalable cloud-based computing environment to develop an app that would provide immediate, useful answers and offer a summary scorecard. The Healthy Moms Health Risk Assessment app was so impressive that it won an honorable mention at the recent Cleveland Medical Hackathon competition where the Case Western Reserve team vied with other teams to develop the best innovation to address an unmet health care need.
“In many cases, mothers have health issues before they become pregnant, and those health issues can be challenging to resolve once they are pregnant,” Perzynski said. “We tailored our app to help women consider how health behaviors, activities and social circumstances might affect the health of a baby should a pregnancy happen, with the goal of empowering women to make healthy choices.”