If you're planning to start a family, but are concerned that an early labor could catch you off-guard, relax. There's an app for that. Or there soon will be if trials on this potential life-saver in London are proven to be successful. But for those who are already pregnant and have the same concerns, unfortunately the smartphone feature may not be on the market for at least a year.
It's called the QUiPP app, created at King’s College London, and modified through additional studies at two hospitals in London, where the prognosis is that it could become an effective safeguard. But that won't be before a larger research and testing program, currently under way at 13 hospitals in the city and involving 580 women, is complete.
Upon conclusion of those trials it's hoped that QUiPP will better manage the likelihood of high-risk, pre-term birth as well as those with symptoms that may point premature uterine activity, one sign that a baby might be planning to pop out before its due date. Here's where it gets complicated. Sometimes the latter group showing those symptoms wind up not delivering, despite the red flags.
QUiPP is designed to determine those unpredictable outcomes by taking into account such variables as birth history, cervical measurements, and levels of fibronectin, a substance that bonds the uterine lining with the amniotic sac. Calculating that information presumably determines the likelihood of a premature birth, which then provides physicians and hospital care workers a time window of when delivery is likely to take place.
Once approved, QUiPP's benefits are not only medically beneficial, but could cut costs in the U.K.'s healthcare system. Getting a more accurate reading on delivery lowers the potential for a dicey birth, and thus decreases hospital stays as well as decreases the need for medications like corticosteroids, injections administered to maintain the baby's development in case it's born premature.
The app also might help ensure the likelihood of safer births, considering that the UK experiences roughly 60,000 premature births annually, and these can often be dangerous.
But most importantly, QUiPP can help reduce stress levels among mothers who constantly worry about being in a risky situation, such as their baby entering the world ahead of schedule. Peace of mind goes a long way towards having a healthy baby.