January is National Birth Defects Prevention Month, an awareness event that helps spread information to parents about the most effective ways to prevent birth defects. This month, MotherToBaby, a service of the international non-profit Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), released a new, free app that allows parents to not only search information on medication and exposure safety during pregnancy, but connect with an expert in real time to ask questions.
The MotherToBaby app, available on Android and iOS, features their renowned up-to-date library of fact sheets on more than 100 exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding. An "exposure" in pregnancy, which is also known as a "teratogen," is anything that a pregnant person is exposed to (medication, environmental, herbal, alcohol, illegal drugs, caffeine, lead etc.) that can cause harm to the developing fetus. The app makes it convenient and helpful for parents to search up quick, to-the-point, and research-based (ie, you can trust it) information on what medicine is considered safe, and which kinds of exposures to avoid. Of course, there's always Google, but you have to wade through a lot of links and potential misinformation to get the answers you need. With an app like this one from MotherToBaby, the most credible information is right in your pocket, accessible without the need to spend time searching and researching.
Perhaps the most unique feature that sets the MotherToBaby app apart is the ability for parents to directly connect with a teratogen information expert (someone who specializes in providing personalized information about the risks of birth defects) via live chat, email, text, and phone. If you're not finding the information you need or have more in-depth questions, you can reach out directly to an expert -- for free! Of course, your care provider is always the best source for questions and concerns in pregnancy, but sometimes providers are not easily reachable and may not have the most current information on exposures (without first researching it herself).
Since MotherToBaby also runs current studies on the effect of exposures during pregnancy, the app also features a way for a pregnant people to easily contribute information to the research.
Exposures in pregnancy are all around; it's important to have information on how to avoid or limit harmful exposures in order to help prevent birth defects and improve the health of you and your child. We have a plethora of information available available, but sometimes it helps to have it condensed and available in a quick and easy format, like the MotherToBaby app. I encourage expectant families to check it out!