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Author: Lauren Ariniello –

The state of maternal health in the United States is in crisis, with rising mortality rates and stark racial disparities (CDC, 2021). In response to this urgent situation, Scripps Research launched the PowerMom platform in 2021, aiming to transform maternal health research through comprehensive data collection and artificial intelligence (AI) analysis.

The PowerMom platform is a collaborative research initiative designed for secure, flexible data collection, including patient-reported outcomes, electronic health records, and wearable sensor data. It engages participants, fosters trust through data reciprocity, and empowers them with knowledge about their health. The platform has the potential to address the systemic health inequities present in maternal care.

The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation has awarded a significant grant to the PowerMom team, enabling them to enhance their efforts in three critical areas. The first is to expand enrollment. To do this, the team will focus on enrolling diverse participants in the baseline study and sub-studies. Second, the team will develop a more personalized in-app return of individualized health information. And finally, researchers will use AI to analyze associations between prenatal mental health and maternal outcomes as well as explore physiological, behavioral, and hormonal changes from pre-pregnancy to postpartum. “Hormonal changes play a crucial role in supporting the pregnancy and preparing the body for childbirth and breastfeeding. Since they are associated with physiological changes measured with wearable sensors, we will explore if we can use sensors for early prediction of adverse outcomes, like preeclampsia or pregnancy complications, enabling an early intervention and improving the life of both mother and newborn” says Dr. Giorgio Quer, Director of AI and Assistant Professor at Scripps Research. 

The PowerMom platform, coupled with AI capabilities, has the potential to accelerate maternal health research significantly. It operates within the broader PowerMom consortium, collaborating with organizations from various sectors and leveraging its commitment to data reciprocity and compliance with stringent security and privacy controls.

The funds from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation will propel PowerMom’s initiatives forward, addressing critical aspects of maternal health research. From combating systemic racism’s impact on pregnancy outcomes to utilizing digital therapeutics for postpartum mental health, PowerMom aims to make substantial strides. “It is already well researched that structural and systemic racism and discrimination are significant drivers for the health disparities seen in maternal health. The PowerMom platform is uniquely positioned to work with our partners to dig deeper and start working towards finding solutions as we draw associations between these drivers at maternal health outcomes.” States Dr. Tolúwalàṣẹ Àjàyí, lead researcher of the PowerMom platform.

In the face of escalating maternal health challenges, the PowerMom Maternal Health Research platform stands as a beacon of innovation. With the support of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, PowerMom is poised to usher in a groundbreaking era in maternal health research, generating real-world data and employing advanced AI approaches to revolutionize our understanding and approach to maternal health.