BabySteps: Empowering parents to monitor the growth, development, and immunization of their children
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In India, approximately 22 million children are affected by developmental delays that frequently go undetected or are detected late, at extensive cost to parents and irreversible damage to the child. In addition, 30% do not adhere to immunization schedules, 40% are malnourished, and an estimated 7% suffer from obesity. Timely detection is critical in order to minimize physical and financial costs to the child and his/her parents. Growth and developmental issues, along with incomplete immunization, are the most prevalent preventable issues that contribute to child morbidity and mortality. BabySteps is a mobile health (mHealth) application that we have designed to empower parents to monitor growth, development, and immunization of their child. Our key insight is that the progress pediatricians would like to monitor can be tracked using the milestones that parents record regularly, like ‘baby’s firsts’ using a baby book. BabySteps will integrate the two so that parents remain informed and alert, but also incentivized to input necessary information. Our research and development project began with a needs assessment exercise. Based on in-depth interviews and a structured survey, we identified the gaps in the current process of developmental assessment. The second phase of product design entailed discussions with paediatricians, parents, design experts, and technical experts towards building a prototype. Our current prototype is an Android application that offers parents the options to create a baby book, while in the background keeping track of the child’s growth, development, and immunization milestones.The parameters take into account contextual nuances by using India-specific norms, charts and values. Our next phase would involve testing the prototype and getting the perspectives of paediatricians and parents on various offerings of the application. After incorporating the insights from our pilot testing, the final version will be circulated to a wider parental population for an extensive population-based study.