For now, the QuiPP, which was developed at the King's College in London, utilizes an algorithm that takes into account several factors to determine if a woman is at risk for delivering early. Things like whether she's had a past preterm delivery, results of a fetal fibronectin test, and cervical length are considered in making this important assessment.
Premature delivery carries a host of immediate and long-term risks for baby, including breathing problems due to the lungs being underdeveloped, a compromised immune system, and learning disabilities.
Before coming to market, the QuiPP was tested in two groups of high-risk women; the first had had a previous preterm birth, but were not showing symptoms of early delivery this time, while the second group had no history of preterm labor but showed symptoms of going into labor early, although most had not progressed to full-blown labor. In both studies, the app proved to be a more effective predictor of early labor than simply assessing known factors that lead to preterm delivery.
"It can be difficult to accurately assess a woman's risk, given that many women who show symptoms of preterm labour do not go on to deliver early," explains professor Andrew Shennan. "The more accurately we can predict her risk, the better we can manage a woman's pregnancy to ensure the safest possible birth for her and her baby."
In other words, if the QuiPP's algorithm can accurately predict a woman's risk of delivering her baby early, doctors can proactively design her care around attempting to delay birth, and allowing baby to bake a bit more. Now if only there was an algorithm to predict whether or not you'll have baby name regret...
The app is currently available on iTunes.
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.