Georgia is one of the most dangerous places in the country for maternal health. The state ranks 50th, dead last for maternal mortality, which means more pregnant women and new mothers die in Georgia than in any other state (WJBF News).
Dr. Marlo Vernon, a doctor and researcher at Augusta University, in Augusta,Georgia just more funding for her pregnancy care app called Vida. It is a remote pregnancy and postpartum monitoring app.
Dr. Vernon tells of her cousin passing away for life threatening preeclampsia that went undiagnosed.
“My cousin passed away 3 and a half years ago. She was 38 weeks pregnant and she woke up with a terrible headache. A chronic headache that doesn’t go away is an early symptom of preeclampsia. By the time they got her to the hospital, it was too late. They were able to save her baby, but not Caitlyn.”
Her pregnancy monitoring app allows mothers to contact their care providers. This is especially great for mothers who live in rural areas.
“We are looking to develop a simple way for moms to interact with their providers and to monitor their blood pressure, their weight and their mental health during pregnancy and through the first year post-partum,” Dr. Vernon explains. “If a mom sends us a measurement that’s above certain metrics, she gets a notification to contact her physician and her physician also gets that notification. For preeclampsia and hypertension related issues, a lot of the symptoms are normal with pregnancy– headaches, feeling unwell, nausea, vomiting, stomach aches that you could contribute to false labor, blurred vision. Those are all symptoms that you could explain away,” Dr. Vernon says.
Dr. Vernon’s Vida app took home the top prize in a competition called the Remote Pregnancy Monitoring Grand Challenge. She was granted $35,000 and it hoping to snag $150,000 in the final phase of the competition. She plans to use the money to pay for more development with the goal of saving lives in the future.
“So many moms don’t recognize the symptoms so just being able to educate the community and educate women so that they can reach out and share this information and watch out for their friends and their family,” says Dr. Vernon.
The results of the final phase of the competition will be determined in May 2020.