Breastfeeding was significantly increased by a mobile phone application that provided supportive texts and an online community to new moms, according to a new pilot study from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
Lead investigator Maya Bunik, MD, associate professor of pediatrics at the CU School of Medicine, developed the app with colleagues in the mHealth Impact Laboratory at the Colorado School of Public Health at CU Anschutz. The mHealth Impact Lab is led by Sheana Bull, PhD, professor and chair of Community and Behavioral Health at the Colorado School of Public Health.
“We wanted as many mothers and babies as possible to take advantage of the health benefits of breastfeeding and all babies to be offered human milk as their first food, and we know that women of child-bearing age are in the generation most likely to own a cell phone and use texting to communicate,” Bunik said.
“Cell phones have been shown to be an effective way to increase the prescribed use of HIV medication, to help people quit smoking and to better manage diabetes. Our pilot study suggests that they also can be useful with breastfeeding support and management.”
About a quarter of the text messages asked for a response from participants, querying them about normal stooling patterns in babies in the first 4 to 7 days of life, for example, or whether they knew that babies fed exclusively with breast milk in their first months of life have lower rates of obesity later. The app also linked participants to a private Facebook page where informative links, supportive comments and brief videos were posted.
Bunik said a larger trial is being planned.
→ Read the full story at CU Anschutz Today.