Yale Launches Second ResearchKit App, This Time Aimed At Preventing Pregnancy Loss


Yale University has launched its second ResearchKit app in just the last two months. The new app was designed by members of Yale’s Reproductive and Placental Research Unit, led by Harvey Kliman, MD. For years, care providers have suspected that there may be a link between an undersized placenta and late-term pregnancy losses. The placenta is a complex organ that grows during gestation, providing oxygenated blood and nourishment to the fetus, and removing harmful waste. Though the healthy development of the placenta is vital to the overall wellbeing of both the mother and the baby, measurements of estimated placental volume (EPV) are not routinely captured during pregnancy.


Now, with the help of Yale’s new app, Kliman and his team hope to validate the suspicions of providers by recruiting pregnant women and helping them track their EPV measurements throughout their pregnancy. The app is designed to take basic placenta measurements that would be captured during a routine ultrasound exam, and use those measurements to calculate an EPV measurement. The team behind the app asks users to work with their OB/GYN or ultrasound technicians to properly capture placental measurements during examinations, and asks that users only enter data into the app with the assistance of a healthcare provider. Users are also asked to report the outcome of their pregnancy.

If Kliman can capture EPV measurements and pregnancy outcomes from enough users, his team will have the data set it needs to demonstrate that women with undersized placentas are at a higher risk of suffering a late-term miscarriage. Kliman hopes to establish this correlation and suggests that if he is successful, he would have the data he needed to convince care providers to monitor placental development as closely as fetal development.

The app, which uses ResearchKit as its backend framework, is available on iTunes and is now the second app in use by medical researchers at Yale. Last month, a team of cardiologists released an app designed to monitor the health and wellbeing of patients who have been diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, an abnormality in the heart muscle that limits its ability to pump blood effectively.

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