Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School scientists and Microsoft Corp. volunteers on Tuesday announced the rollout of Baby be Well, a free mobile app to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
In a press release, Rutgers said the app will help families keep infants safe throughout the first year of life through its proven guidance of safe sleep practices as part of its AI for Good initiative and Tata Consultancy Services.
The app is currently designed for Android devices, and the iOS version will follow shortly.
Working with volunteers from Microsoft, led by principal data scientist Sushama Murthy, the Rutgers team presented the challenge of how to inspire return visits to an educational app, resulting from experience with an app they published previously.
“We focused on making the app an appealing and interactive experience to promote return visits and repeated exposure to the safe infant sleep guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics,” Dr. Barbara Ostfeld, a professor of pediatrics at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and one of the scientists involved with the app’s development, said. “We found that those reminders help maintain awareness and adherence not only when a child is born, but throughout the first year.”
The baby book model was thus created, ensuring continued promotion of safe sleep practices over time that can be shared with friends and family.
“To encourage return visits, the app is designed as a traditional baby book where parents can upload photographs and milestones and even track day-to-day activities such as feedings,” Dr. Thomas Hegyi, a professor of pediatrics and a co-creator of the app, said. “Parents can share their personal account with grandparents and other caregivers. Therefore, along with the keepsakes and schedules, recipients also receive safe sleep tips and reminders.”
Hegyi and Ostfeld serve as members of the Research Partnership of the Aaron Matthew SIDS Research Guild, an international initiative based at Seattle Children’s Hospital Integrative Brain Research Institute. The program was started by John Kahan, chief data and analytics officer at Microsoft, in memory of his son whose death was attributed to sudden infant death syndrome.
Rutgers University contributed support for the initiative, and Steven Wen, assistant manager in the Office of Information Technology at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, will oversee the launch.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New Jersey has one of the lowest rates of sudden unexpected infant deaths in the nation.