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  1. Continuous monitoring of perinatal women in a descriptive case study allowed us the opportunity to examine the time during which the COVID-19 infection led to physiological changes in two low-income pregnant women. An important component of this study was the use of a wearable sensor device, the Oura ring, to monitor and record vital physiological parameters during sleep. Two women in their second and third trimesters, respectively, were selected based on a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. Both women were tested using the polymerase chain reaction method to confirm the presence of the virus during which time we were able to collect these physiological data. In both cases, we observed 3–6 days of peak physiological changes in resting heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (HRV), and respiratory rate (RR), as well as sleep surrounding the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. The pregnant woman in her third trimester showed a significant increase in resting HR ( p = 0.006) and RR ( p = 0.048), and a significant decrease in HRV ( p = 0.027) and deep sleep duration ( p = 0.029). She reported experiencing moderate COVID-19 symptoms and did not require hospitalization. At 38 weeks of gestation, she had a normal deliverymore »and gave birth to a healthy infant. The participant in her second trimester showed similar physiological changes during the 3-day peak period. Importantly, these changes appeared to return to the pre-peak levels. Common symptoms reported by both cases included loss of smell and nasal congestion, with one losing her sense of taste. Results suggest the potential to use the changes in cardiorespiratory responses and sleep for real-time monitoring of health and well-being during pregnancy.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 7, 2023
  2. Pregnancy is a unique time when many mothers gain awareness of their lifestyle and its impacts on the fetus. High-quality care during pregnancy is needed to identify possible complications early and ensure the mother’s and her unborn baby’s health and well-being. Different studies have thus far proposed maternal health monitoring systems. However, they are designed for a specific health problem or are limited to questionnaires and short-term data collection methods. Moreover, the requirements and challenges have not been evaluated in long-term studies. Maternal health necessitates a comprehensive framework enabling continuous monitoring of pregnant women. In this paper, we present an Internet-of-Things (IoT)-based system to provide ubiquitous maternal health monitoring during pregnancy and postpartum. The system consists of various data collectors to track the mother’s condition, including stress, sleep, and physical activity. We carried out the full system implementation and conducted a real human subject study on pregnant women in Southwestern Finland. We then evaluated the system’s feasibility, energy efficiency, and data reliability. Our results show that the implemented system is feasible in terms of system usage during nine months. We also indicate the smartwatch, used in our study, has acceptable energy efficiency in long-term monitoring and is able to collectmore »reliable photoplethysmography data. Finally, we discuss the integration of the presented system with the current healthcare system.« less
  3. Ryckman, Kelli K (Ed.)
    Background Technology enables the continuous monitoring of personal health parameter data during pregnancy regardless of the disruption of normal daily life patterns. Our research group has established a project investigating the usefulness of an Internet of Things–based system and smartwatch technology for monitoring women during pregnancy to explore variations in stress, physical activity and sleep. The aim of this study was to examine daily patterns of well-being in pregnant women before and during the national stay-at-home restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic in Finland. Methods A longitudinal cohort study design was used to monitor pregnant women in their everyday settings. Two cohorts of pregnant women were recruited. In the first wave in January-December 2019, pregnant women with histories of preterm births (gestational weeks 22–36) or late miscarriages (gestational weeks 12–21); and in the second wave between October 2019 and March 2020, pregnant women with histories of full-term births (gestational weeks 37–42) and no pregnancy losses were recruited. The final sample size for this study was 38 pregnant women. The participants continuously used the Samsung Gear Sport smartwatch and their heart rate variability, and physical activity and sleep data were collected. Subjective stress, activity and sleep reports were collected using amore »smartphone application developed for this study. Data between February 12 to April 8, 2020 were included to cover four-week periods before and during the national stay-at-home restrictions. Hierarchical linear mixed models were exploited to analyze the trends in the outcome variables. Results The pandemic-related restrictions were associated with changes in heart rate variability: the standard deviation of all normal inter-beat intervals (p = 0.034), low-frequency power (p = 0.040) and the low-frequency/high-frequency ratio (p = 0.013) increased compared with the weeks before the restrictions. Women’s subjectively evaluated stress levels also increased significantly. Physical activity decreased when the restrictions were set and as pregnancy proceeded. The total sleep time also decreased as pregnancy proceeded, but pandemic-related restrictions were not associated with sleep. Daily rhythms changed in that the participants overall started to sleep later and woke up later. Conclusions The findings showed that Finnish pregnant women coped well with the pandemic-related restrictions and lockdown environment in terms of stress, physical activity and sleep.« less
  4. Background The physical and emotional well-being of women is critical for healthy pregnancy and birth outcomes. The Two Happy Hearts intervention is a personalized mind-body program coached by community health workers that includes monitoring and reflecting on personal health, as well as practicing stress management strategies such as mindful breathing and movement. Objective The aims of this study are to (1) test the daily use of a wearable device to objectively measure physical and emotional well-being along with subjective assessments during pregnancy, and (2) explore the user’s engagement with the Two Happy Hearts intervention prototype, as well as understand their experiences with various intervention components. Methods A case study with a mixed design was used. We recruited a 29-year-old woman at 33 weeks of gestation with a singleton pregnancy. She had no medical complications or physical restrictions, and she was enrolled in the Medi-Cal public health insurance plan. The participant engaged in the Two Happy Hearts intervention prototype from her third trimester until delivery. The Oura smart ring was used to continuously monitor objective physical and emotional states, such as resting heart rate, resting heart rate variability, sleep, and physical activity. In addition, the participant self-reported her physical and emotionalmore »health using the Two Happy Hearts mobile app–based 24-hour recall surveys (sleep quality and level of physical activity) and ecological momentary assessment (positive and negative emotions), as well as the Perceived Stress Scale, Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Engagement with the Two Happy Hearts intervention was recorded via both the smart ring and phone app, and user experiences were collected via Research Electronic Data Capture satisfaction surveys. Objective data from the Oura ring and subjective data on physical and emotional health were described. Regression plots and Pearson correlations between the objective and subjective data were presented, and content analysis was performed for the qualitative data. Results Decreased resting heart rate was significantly correlated with increased heart rate variability (r=–0.92, P<.001). We found significant associations between self-reported responses and Oura ring measures: (1) positive emotions and heart rate variability (r=0.54, P<.001), (2) sleep quality and sleep score (r=0.52, P<.001), and (3) physical activity and step count (r=0.77, P<.001). In addition, deep sleep appeared to increase as light and rapid eye movement sleep decreased. The psychological measures of stress, depression, and anxiety appeared to decrease from baseline to post intervention. Furthermore, the participant had a high completion rate of the components of the Two Happy Hearts intervention prototype and shared several positive experiences, such as an increased self-efficacy and a normal delivery. Conclusions The Two Happy Hearts intervention prototype shows promise for potential use by underserved pregnant women.« less