HEALTH

WebMD hosts Scripps Translational Science Institute pregnancy study on its app

BY Michael Johnsen

 

NEW YORK — WebMD and Scripps Translational Science Institute on Monday announced a new investigative study designed to improve researchers’ and health care professionals’ understanding of what contributes to healthy pregnancies and positive pregnancy outcomes.

“Pregnant women are one of the least studied populations in medical research,” stated Eric Topol, director of STSI and editor-in-chief of Medscape. “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.”

The Healthy Pregnancy Study will use WebMD’s newly redesigned and enhanced Pregnancy app for iPhone. Incorporation of the Apple ResearchKit software framework will enable survey participants to eConsent, easily and anonymously answer questions, and share connected device data about their pregnancies with researchers for analysis.

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. They will also 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 also be asked to share information about additional factors, 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, as more data is collected, it will allow users to compare their data with that of other pregnant women who share their traits.

“Over 1.5 million people have downloaded WebMD’s Pregnancy mobile app,” commented Hansa Bhargava, WebMD’s medical editor and in-house pediatric expert. “By incorporating the Healthy Pregnancy Study directly within the app and making it available to such a large base of expectant moms, we hope 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.”

 

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Clinician develops new hearing aid adjustment program

BY Michael Johnsen

COLUMBIA, Mo. — More than half of older adults have some form of hearing loss, impacting everyday life and significantly affecting their health and safety if left untreated.

Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss; however, many adults fail to adjust to hearing aids and, as a result, stop using them. Now, a new hearing aid adjustment program created by Kari Lane, assistant professor in the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri, might significantly improve hearing aid wear time among older adults.

"Often, when older adults start using a hearing aid, everything is overwhelming," Lane said. "They can't tolerate the noise, or they can't adjust to it. Older adults tend to wait 10 to 15 years before trying a hearing aid for the first time. When they do put it on, they are bombarded with sounds they haven't heard in a while."

To help adults adjust to hearing aid use, Lane developed the Hearing Aid Reintroduction (HEAR) program. HEAR is a systematically gradual method to support adjustment to hearing aids. With HEAR intervention, the duration of hearing aid use increases slowly from one hour on day one to 10 hours on day 30. In addition, sound complexity also increases, beginning with sounds the house makes such as fans and the dishwasher to complex listening situations such as a restaurant or theater. The intervention currently is supported through a workbook that provides instructions, tips and encouragement. Patients are able to record their progress in a journal as well as questions or concerns for their audiologist.

To test the success of the HEAR intervention, Lane enlisted individuals who have previously tried hearing aids but failed to adjust and those who were trying hearing aids for the first time.

"We found an 80% increase in patients' hearing aid wear time due to the intervention," Lane said. "The patients also were able to tolerate more complex noises and reported more satisfaction with their hearing aids."

This data will be used to help Lane create a complementary app, which will allow patients and audiologists to communicate more effectively regarding hearing aid use. Patients will be able to input their progress, which will be saved to their digital health records for their audiologist to view. In turn, the audiologist will be able to answer questions and send encouragement.

"Patients may not be aware of how many times they need to visit their audiologist," Lane said. "Many patients only meet with their audiologist twice, but they need to meet with them as many as eight times when first receiving a hearing aid. That may be why many patients give up on their hearing aids. Communicating with an audiologist through an app may ease that."

The study, "Older Adults and Hearing Aids," recently was published in the Journal of Phonetics and Audiology.

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Vast majority of pregnant women lack optimal nutrition in their diet

BY Michael Johnsen

PITTSBURGH — Women who are pregnant are not likely to have a diet optimal to that pregnancy, according to a study published Friday in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and led by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Many healthy maternal diets have been linked to reduced risks of preterm birth, fetal growth restriction, preeclampsia and maternal obesity.

"Unlike many other pregnancy and birth risk factors, diet is something we can improve," stated lead author Lisa Bodnar, associate professor and vice chair of research in Pitt Public Health's Department of Epidemiology. "While attention should be given to improving nutritional counseling at doctor appointments, overarching societal and policy changes that help women to make healthy dietary choices may be more effective and efficient."

Bodnar and her colleagues analyzed the results of questionnaires completed by 7,511 women who were between six and 14 weeks pregnant and enrolled in The Nulliparous Pregnancy Outcomes Study: Monitoring Mothers to Be, which followed women who enrolled in the study at one of eight U.S. medical centers.

The women reported on their dietary habits during the three months around conception.

The diets were assessed using the Healthy Eating Index-2010, which measures 12 key aspects of diet quality, including adequacy of intake for key food groups, as well as intake of refined grains, salt and empty calories (all calories from solid fats and sugars, plus calories from alcohol beyond a moderate level).  When scores were broken down into the 12 aspects of diet, fewer than 10% of the women met the dietary guideline for the whole grains, fatty acids, sodium or empty calories categories.

Approximately 34% of the calories the women consumed were from empty calories. Top sources of energy were sugar-sweetened beverages, pasta dishes and grain desserts.

"Our findings mirror national nutrition and dietary trends," Bodnar suggested. "The diet quality gap among non-pregnant people is thought to be a consequence of many factors, including access to and price of healthy foods, knowledge of a healthy diet and pressing needs that may take priority over a healthy diet," she said. "Future research needs to determine if improving pre-pregnancy diet leads to better pregnancy and birth outcomes. If so, then we need to explore and test ways to improve the diets for everyone, particularly women likely to become pregnant."
 

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