Study suggests online coaching can help pregnant women make better choices | Health

A recent study suggested that in the period before and shortly after pregnancy, women can improve their lifestyle using personalized coaching via a smartphone.

The findings, published in the journal Reproductive Biomedicine Online, show that digital healthcare could be a cost-effective way to provide personalized advice to women who are struggling during pregnancy, which the NHS does not have the resources to provide. . The greatest reduction in pregnancy risk behaviors was seen in overweight women.

In this study, conducted by the University of Southampton, 262 women who were planning pregnancies and had experienced difficulty conceiving or repeated miscarriages signed up for the online lifestyle coaching program Smarter Pregnancy.

All participants completed questionnaires through the app at the start and at six-week intervals during the four-month trial. The questionnaires covered topics such as their diet, folic acid intake, smoking and alcohol consumption.

After each quiz, half of the participants (the intervention group) received automated advice and recommendations through the coaching platform, based on their responses. The other half (the control group) were referred to standard guidelines for periconceptional care on the NHS website.

Analysis of questionnaire responses showed that the group receiving counseling through the Smarter Pregnancy platform were more likely to make positive lifestyle changes during the trial than participants in the control group. The most significant change was in the reduction in smoking and alcohol consumption among people with a body mass index over 25 (overweight).

The results also showed that the odds of getting pregnant after 24 weeks were increased for participants using the app, although the study team notes that more research would be needed to validate this link, as this study aimed to improving lifestyle choices rather than assessing pregnancy. rates.

Dr Bonnie Ng, MRC Fellow in Clinical and Experimental Sciences at the University of Southampton, said: “Our trial shows that digital health tools can help women improve their lifestyles and the health of their babies. “

He added: “With this tool, women can take control of their own bodies, and it also removes the feeling that they are ‘reprimanded’ when they see their doctor. I sincerely hope we can use this online health platform in the future to offer women tailored advice.”

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