The Healthy Pregnancy Research Program: transforming pregnancy research through a ResearchKit app

NPJ Digit Med. 2018 Sep 5:1:45. doi: 10.1038/s41746-018-0052-2. eCollection 2018.


Although maternal morbidity and mortality in the US is among the worst of developed countries, pregnant women have been under-represented in research studies, resulting in deficiencies in evidence-based guidance for treatment. There are over two billion smartphone users worldwide, enabling researchers to easily and cheaply conduct extremely large-scale research studies through smartphone apps, especially among pregnant women in whom app use is exceptionally high, predominantly as an information conduit. We developed the first pregnancy research app that is embedded within an existing, popular pregnancy app for self-management and education of expectant mothers. Through the large-scale and simplified collection of survey and sensor generated data via the app, we aim to improve our understanding of factors that promote a healthy pregnancy for both the mother and developing fetus. From the launch of this cohort study on 16 March 2017 through 17 December 2017, we have enrolled 2058 pregnant women from all 50 states. Our study population is diverse geographically and demographically, and fairly representative of US population averages. We have collected 14,045 individual surveys and 107,102 total daily measurements of sleep, activity, blood pressure, and heart rate during this time. On average, women stayed engaged in the study for 59 days and 45 percent who reached their due date filled out the final outcome survey. During the first 9 months, we demonstrated the potential for a smartphone-based research platform to capture an ever-expanding array of longitudinal, objective, and subjective participant-generated data from a continuously growing and diverse population of pregnant women.

Keywords: Diseases; Epidemiology; Reproductive signs and symptoms; Risk factors.