U of L launches app to help mothers grieving pregnancy loss, new - WDRB 41 Louisville News

U of L launches app to help mothers grieving pregnancy loss, newborn death

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – About 25 percent of pregnant women will experience some sort of loss, according to University of Louisville Dr. Marianne Hutti.

So U of L recently launched an app to help grieving mothers get the proper care they need.

"There are people out there who are going to have really bad outcomes if we don't do something for them,” Hutti said.

She said the passion behind this app actually started 30 years ago, when she was a nurse working for a private practice. Hutti was required to follow up with mothers dealing with perinatal grief.

"It's difficult to know who of those women need follow up, because not all women will grieve the same," Hutti said.

Hutti said many women who grieve will have a good family support system and will experience what’s considered a “normal grief reaction” by healing over time. But about 20 percent of women and men who grieve will experience “intense grief.”

"Some people with really early losses can have very intense grief,” Hutti said. “Just like people who have later losses can often have very intense grief."

Responses associated with intense grief include clinical-level depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, along with higher risks of suicide and divorce. And grief can last for decades.

"When I was doing this study, I had a gentleman who called and asked if we'd do this for older women," Hutti said. "Because his wife had a still-birth as a 20-something-year-old, and she was in her 70s and still grieving."

The professor said in the past proper resources were not always readily available to the mothers needing it most. So Hutti’s app is designed to identify which mothers have a higher risk of intense grief in order to provide medical and mental health care sooner.

"So that we can hopefully prevent them from becoming suicidal, prevent the divorces from occurring, prevent them from having attachment disorder with future children and other really negative things that could occur," Hutti said.

And Hutti said it helps doctors accurately see how a mother is perceiving the loss in order to intervene according to what she needs, instead of saying or recommending something that could actually cause more harm.

The Perinatal Grief Intensity Scale (PGIS) Survey has 14 questions that will calculate a risk score and provide appropriate resources and interventions for that mother. Hutti said the app has an accuracy rate of 95 percent at predicting if a mother will experience clinical-level anxiety or depression from grief in three to five months.

"We're hoping that by getting people help sooner, it will help them to,” Hutti said. “You never get over it. But you learn how to live with it."

The app was released in early June, and Hutti hopes doctor offices will start downloading the app to use with their patients. At the end of the survey, you have the opportunity to submit your results anonymously for research.

The app is available to clinicians free here or at and Google Play.

Other nurse researchers from Norton and U of L, along with a U of L bio statistician, also contributed to developing the app. And undergrad students from the SPEED School created it with funding from a $10,000 grant through the Kimberly-Clark Nursing Research Award.

Hutti has submitted two papers to international journals on the app and will be presenting it to two national conferences. There are hopes this app will support further research in the future.

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