Apps are increasingly popular with parents seeking guidance on infant health, however not all apps are created equal. A recent systematic review examined infant feeding and activity apps available in Australia and assessed their quality against Australian evidence-based guidelines.
After screening 5692 potential apps from Google Play and App Store, the study team found 47 apps eligible for review. These apps are written in English, targeted at parents of infants up to one year of age and provided information on either milk feeding, solid foods feeding, or infant activity.
Independent evaluation of these 47 infant feeding and activity apps showed that apps were generally attractive and easy to use. However, 94% of the apps had incomplete or incorrect information.
Lead author, Ms. Heilok Cheng, said “what this means is that apps are appealing to users even if the information contained in these apps are not always accurate or complete. The main drawback is that apps development is not regulated, hence we have inaccurate or incomplete information being promoted to parents.”
Of the 47 apps, 33 apps were commercially developed, 10 were government apps and 3 were university developed or affiliated. Apps that rated highly on providing accurate and complete information were the Aimee’s Babies apps, developed by an occupational therapist, for physical activity for newborns and infants aged 3, 6 and 12 months, and the Info for Nursing Mum app by the Hong Kong government Family Health Service, available in English and Chinese.
Although the two apps were rated positively, adopting it for clinical practice is not straightforward as apps must meet stringent practice standards and be suited to the Australian context.
Ms Cheng recommends introducing a repository of approved apps, such as the United Kingdom’s National Health Services Apps Library, and a ‘trusted app’ branding to identify apps containing evidence-based information free of commercial interests.