A new Australian study looked at the potential benefits and drawbacks of the smartphone infant feeding (IF) apps currently available for new moms.
The research team, led by Flinders University College of Nursing and Health Sciences nutrition and dietetics experts, sought to analyze the app experience of 9 nursing mothers, as well as the suitability and readability of the app content from an outsider’s perspective.
The mobile health app market is booming, expected to exceed $30 billion by 2020. The World Health Organization projects that mHealth apps will have a myriad of uses including interventions and behavior changes, disease or condition self-management, data monitoring and e-information provision.
In this study, the women interviewed were positive about using such apps, said senior researcher Dr. Jacqueline Miller, an expert in pediatric nutrition. These apps “are increasingly giving mothers a modern way of tracking aspects of baby care, including feeding regularly, sleep, growth and nappy changes,” she says.
“Information stored in the app can provide a useful history to discuss with health care providers who can then provide much more individualised advice, particularly with breastfeeding.”
The findings show that using infant feeding apps can give mothers a perception of greater control, confidence and efficiency at a time of transition and stress in the early stages of parenting an infant.
A few drawbacks of using the apps can include feeling overwhelmed by the information, concerns about over-reliance on the app and even questioning the app’s advice.
“Some apps provide information that is not always accurate and can’t be tailored to the individual,” said Miller.
National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines in Australia recommend exclusive breastfeeding for approximately the first six months. Coauthor Kaitlyn Dienelt said the study demonstrates how important the mobile apps can be in encouraging and supporting new moms’ breastfeeding practices.
“This technology is helping mothers with everyday routines and decision-making which can be tiring and sometimes complex with breastfeeding — although some mobile apps are better than others,” Dienelt said.
“Overall, the participants were positive and some even felt they would have given up on breastfeeding without the app.”
“In a growing world of technology, studies like this are important in shaping future research in providing the best health and self-management information via mobile devices to the wider population.”
The study findings are published in Health Informatics Journal.
Source: Flinders University