Researchers in North Texas say they hope a recently developed app will help save the lives of teen moms.
While U.S. rates of teen pregnancy have declined in recent decades, the Centers for Disease Control reported nearly 200,000 babies were born to women ages 15-19 during the year 2017.
“Teen pregnancies can carry extra health risks both physically and mentally for mothers and can place their babies at risk,” assistant professor in the HSC School of Health Professions Teresa Wagner said.
“Teen moms’ bodies are not fully developed to carry a baby, and they can also be more vulnerable to psychological stresses like postpartum depression, especially if they weren’t intending to become pregnant,” Wagner said.
The “What About Mom?” app and website are an easy-to-use, online symptom checker developed by Wagner for new mothers and their families to help them identify postnatal warning signs that could require immediate 911 attention or a call to their health provider.
The app was recently tested with mothers ages 18-21 who had given birth within the previous two years to study its effectiveness in addressing their specific health questions in the online format they prefer.
The team added short videos addressing the five most prevalent causes of postpartum death in Texas, including depression, infection and high blood pressure.
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When Denise Hernandez welcomed her first child into the world, she also opened the door to unexpected feelings of anxiety and depression.
She said she felt no one had fully prepared her for signs of postpartum depression.
Hernandez used the "What About Mom?" online tool during her second pregnancy and said it would help other new moms too.
"For me to be the mom that I wanted to be, it’s necessary for me to take care of myself and that includes being on medications. I’m thankful and happy where I am now," Hernandez said.