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Problems With Many Pregnancy Apps

Pregnant women turn to the internet for pregnancy information. There are some good sites out there, but also some pregnancy apps loaded with all sorts of false pregnancy information. This is because many of them primarily view pregnant women as customers to be advertised to and sold products. Beware!

A good article about the problems with many pregnancy apps (written by disinformation researcher Nina Jankowicz) sums it up. From Wired: The Internet Is Failing Moms-to-Be

"Pregnancy apps, I quickly learned, aren’t in the business of providing comfort; they are a fantasy-land-cum-horror-show, providing little realistic information about the journey to parenthood. They capitalize on the excitement and anxiety of moms-to-be, peddling unrealistic expectations and even outright disinformation to sell ads and keep users engaged. They foster negative repercussions on the physical and mental health of both mothers and their unborn children, generating profit from the onslaught of emotions brought on by pregnancy."

Studies find that the majority (over 50%) of pregnant women do internet searches (e.g. Google), and then download apps (an average of 3 apps) focused on pregnancy. The overwhelmingly main reason (83%) is to monitor fetal development (e.g. how big is the fetus now? what can it do?). In a distant second and third place are prenatal nutrition and prenatal care. Researchers found that more free apps are downloaded, rather than apps that have to be paid for. (Of course!)

This is why good information pregnancy sites are important. The Wired article mentions that a Forbes article has a list of Best Pregnancy Apps of 2022, but that accuracy of information of the apps is not part of the ranking. Too bad, but at least this list is a start.

Human fetus attached by umbilical cord to placenta, 3 months. Credit: National Museum of Health and Medicine

Unfortunately, while the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has a pregnancy site, it doesn't have a fetal development (e.g. what occurs week by week) page. It needs lots and lots of photos of how the baby (fetus) looks at each stage of development.

Decades ago the Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson published a book A Child Is Born with photographs of what the developing fetus looks like throughout pregnancy. Pregnant women loved the photos, and this is what women still want to see - What does the baby look like week by week during pregnancy? What is happening each week? There is now a 5th edition of the book, and while it is still a great book, it should contain more photos which are organized chronologically.

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