This blog post comes from Maria Berruezo, co-founder and COO of LactApp Women’s health, a tool to provide evidence based and customized advice to breastfeeding women through Artificial Intelligence. LactApp data has already contributed to the success of several scientific studies. Hear more about how Maria’s using technology to change the world at the upcoming Women Rock-IT broadcast on April 22.
Eight years ago, an unexpected and life-changing experience influenced my life and the lives of many people around me.
When my second daughter was born, I already belonged to a breastfeeding association and helped to coordinate a national breastfeeding congress. On my way to a breastfeeding association meeting with my baby in the trolley, we were crossing the last pedestrian crossing when a distracted driver accelerated through a red traffic light, hitting us on the crosswalk.
Thankfully, my little girl wasn’t hurt. She only needed one night in the hospital for observation. But while my baby girl recovered quickly, she had to be without me for two months. I couldn’t nurture or nourish her little growing body because I was on a long and slow journey toward recovery. I went to the ICU for ten days, and then stayed in the hospital for two months until I was able to walk again. The following months I went to rehab every day.
The triangle of success
Breastfeeding was important to me, so I found everything I needed to get it back: Access to trusted information, professional support, and women network.
And the seed of my life project was planted: LactApp.
I realized that most breastfeeding difficulties could be solved with the same formula of success I experienced during my recovery:
- Reliable, updated, and trusted information,
- Specialized health professional support,
- And a supporting network that provided empirical knowledge and known references.
There was one person who was very important throughout my recovery process, and that was friend and future LactApp co-founder, Alba Padró. She was an international board-certified lactation consultant, book author and influencer. Before my accident, Alba volunteered on a 24/7 breastfeeding support hotline. And it was clear to me: we’d need to download Alba’s brain into an app to help nursing mothers globally.
100,000 queries solved each week
Our breastfeeding and motherhood app, LactApp, is an application that resolves an average of 100,000 queries per week in a personalized and automatic way, using AI to identify user concerns and providing tailored answers based on user profile and needs.
In addition, the large volume of gathered data allows us to identify patterns, offer updated information, and anticipate situations. For example, by March 2020, LactApp was already responding to COVID-19 and breastfeeding queries and updating its content daily. LactApp is committed to scientific research. And, among other studies, is currently developing research on the effects of the COVID-19 vaccine in breastfeeding.
Mothers’ needs are underserved
Mothers are one of the hardest-hit groups of people affected by the pandemic. Over the past year, they have been critically affected through health and social neglect. Some of the most pressing concerns for mothers today include those resulting from lockdown rules, like the separation of mothers and babies at very early ages (even at key moments such as the immediate postpartum period), or the increase in domestic violence, or the cultural messaging that their concerns are less important than those of other groups.
At LactApp we have been fortunate to be of help during this difficult time. In fact, LactApp has solved 10 million queries since 2018, and is increasingly in the hands of more mothers. We have a global user count of 450,000 in 177 countries worldwide, in Spanish and English.
While we started LactApp with breastfeeding consultations in mind, because that is our team’s core expertise, we have expanded into other prevalent concerns of motherhood, including difficulties with pregnancy, pregnancy itself, postpartum, menstruation, and menopause. These topics are physiological processes that occur in during critical times for women. LactApp is a ‘living app’ that is constantly being updated based on new knowledge.
Looking to the future
Our vision for LactApp is that it can offer support and answers to 130 million+ women that give birth every year in the world. LactApp’s Artificial Intelligence can offer adequate and reliable responses to mothers. We are transitioning from a predefined, segmented answer to a real-time, hyper-personalized response using support vector machine technologies – achieving predictions with more than 90 percent accuracy!
Data is the new currency in business, but LactApp’s proven ability to make sense of it and transform that data into insights will allow mothers to receive personalized, fast, and appropriate care that is respectful, supportive, and free of bias, empowering women to make informed decisions about themselves and their children.