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Des Moines University Researching How Women Use App to Reduce Stillbirths

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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Des Moines University announced the beginning of a research project looking at how pregnant women use an Iowa-based app to prevent stillbirths.

They are looking at how women experience Count the Kicks, which is a smart phone app to monitor fetal movement during pregnancy.

Researchers are comparing data from 19,000 app users from 2017 with data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which says the stillbirth rate in Iowa is around 4.3% per 1,000 births. The Count the Kicks app is hoping to lower that percentage.

"Moms need to get to know what is a normal amount of movement for their baby, and what we educate moms on in the third trimester is to sit down and have a daily kick counting session once a day," said Emily Price, executive director of Healthy Birth Day Inc.

Price explained how the app works.

“They tap a little footprint on the app every time they feel a movement, a kick, a jab or a roll. And what the app is doing is timing how long it takes to get to ten movements each day,” said Price.

Price says after about a week, mothers start to recognize the average amount of time it takes their baby to move ten times. Every baby is different, but if that average time changes, it could be a problem.

“There could be an issue with the placenta. Perhaps the placenta has calcified, cutting off nutrients to baby. There could be an issue with the umbilical cord, whether it is wrapped around the baby or they`ve developed a knot in the umbilical cord. Mom or baby could also develop an infection,” said Price.

Price is passionate about Count the Kicks because the program helped save her son.

“He could have perhaps been born early and spent time in the NICU. Perhaps he could have been still born and not made it, but the thing is that I don`t have to know. I don`t have to guess what could have happened because the fact is he`s here and he`s healthy because I knew to speak up when his movement changed. He`s here and he`s healthy and starting fourth grade next week,” said Price.

If you were pregnant during 2017 and using the app and would like to participate, you can write to the survey at countthekicks.org

Des Moines University is still collecting data and hopes to have results by early next year.

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