March of Dimes and Partners Offer Free Tool to Identify Health Risks for Mother and Baby
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y; AUG. 13, 2013 – A free, state-of-the-art, computer-based tool to help identify and address potential pregnancy conditions that may put the health of the mother and her baby at risk now is available to health care providers.
The Pregnancy and Health Profile, an electronic computer-based tool, developed by March of Dimes, the National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics, Genetic Alliance, and the Massachusetts General Hospital, gathers a pregnant woman’s and her partner’s family health histories and information about their lifestyle and behavior that could affect newborn health. The software completed a one-year pilot test.
The new, electronic health tool includes a patient-friendly questionnaire that is filled out by the patient in a health care office on a computer tablet. The software translates the family health information and suggests potential risks for health care providers to focus on during an office visit. Information from the tool, including the potential risks and background information for health provider, can be integrated into existing electronic health records or the software can operate as a stand-alone system for primary prenatal care practices. The software can be downloaded free at: http://www.nchpeg.org/
“Family health history is a critical factor in determining a person’s risk for health problems such as miscarriage, preterm birth, birth defects, heart disease, cancer and diabetes,” says, Edward R.B. McCabe, MD, March of Dimes senior vice president and chief medical officer of the March of Dimes.
Family health history can help health care providers screen and assess risk for many genetic conditions, some of which can be identified through testing and, more importantly, some of which can be treated through early intervention. In 2011, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists issued an opinion saying that all women should be evaluated for their risk of passing along an inherited disorder.
“Our tool will help health care providers have a more informed discussion with their patients. It will provide the big picture quickly and allow them to get to the nitty-gritty much sooner,” said Joan A. Scott, M.S., executive director of National Coalition for Health Professional Education in Genetics. “Our goal with this new, electronic family history tool is to help prenatal care providers determine a women’s risk for problems during pregnancy so together they can take steps to improve the chance of having full-term pregnancies and healthy babies.”
“Personalizing prenatal care using family health history: Identifying a panel of conditions for a novel electronic genetic screening tool,” by Bruce Lin, Manager of Special Initiatives for the March of Dimes and colleagues, was recently published in the journal Personalized Medicine, Vol. 10 No. 3. The article describes which genetic conditions are included in the tool with clinical decision support.
Prior to its release, the Pregnancy and Health Profile had been tested in:
• Maine-Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency Program in Augusta and Fairfield,
• Montefiore Medical Center Comprehensive Family Care Center, Bronx, NY
• Mountain Area Health Education Center, Asheville, NC.
• Community Health Network, Indianapolis, IN.
More than 600 patients and 75 obstetricians, family medicine practitioners, nurse midwives and nurses took part in the pilot projects. More than 95 percent of the patients reported that the tool was easy to use and understand. Clinicians said the tool engaged and educated patients, efficiently collected information and improved patient ability to identify and act on family history risks.
In 2013, the March of Dimes celebrates its 75th Anniversary and its ongoing work to help babies get a healthy start in life. Early research led to the Salk and Sabin polio vaccines that all babies still receive. Other breakthroughs include new treatments for premature infants and children with birth defects. About 4 million babies are born each year in the United States, and all have benefitted from March of Dimes lifesaving research and education.
The March of Dimes is the leading non-profit organization for pregnancy and baby health. With chapters nationwide and its premiere event, March for Babies®, the March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.com or nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.