Research Project Launches to Analyze App Use and Birth Outcomes

Iowa Institutions Come Together for First-Of-Its-Kind Study

DES MOINES, Iowa — (July 31, 2019) — Researchers at Des Moines University (DMU) and The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement announced today the beginning of a scientific research project that will analyze if and how the Count the Kicks® mobile app impacts birth outcomes among women who use it. This will be the first study that researchers know of to examine the relationship between a mobile app that tracks fetal movement and birth outcomes, and will help Healthy Birth Day, Inc. analyze its Count the Kicks® stillbirth prevention campaign to better serve expecting parents. The study is funded, in part, by Healthy Birth Day, Inc.

Dr. Pamela A. Duffy, associate professor and vice chair of DMU’s Department of Public Health, emphasized the importance of this public health research: “This project may help us better understand the significance of monitoring fetal movement as part of stillbirth prevention. We hope this study will be an important contribution to the scientific literature on kick counting and in the reduction of health disparities associated with stillbirth.”

Duffy is joined in this research by fellow researcher Dr. Lyndi Buckingham-Schutt of The Harkin Institute at Drake University, with Des Moines University student research assistants Benjamin Williamson and Ashley Armantrout. Kerry Biondi-Morlan, co-founder of Healthy Birth Day, Inc., is providing subject matter expertise to the researchers.

The research team has begun sending online surveys to 2017 Count the Kicks® app users asking about their experience using the app and their birth outcomes. Researchers are seeking permission to study the kick counting data associated with the users’ Count the Kicks® account. Birth outcome data of 2017 Count the Kicks® app users will be compared to the 2017 national stillbirth rate as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers plan to release study results by early next year.  For more information on the study, please contact 515-271-7811 or For media inquiries, please contact Emily Price, Healthy Birth Day, Inc. Executive Director, at 515.505.0319 and


Des Moines University is the only private medical school in Iowa, offering graduate-level, professional degree programs in osteopathic medicine, podiatric medicine, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, health care administration, anatomy, biomedical sciences and public health. Founded in 1898, the institution offers superior academics in a collaborative environment. DMU students’ pass rates on national examinations and board certifications are consistently higher than national averages and the rates at similar institutions.

The Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement at Drake University exists to inform citizens, inspire creative cooperation, and catalyze change on issues of social justice, fairness, and opportunity. Founded on the premise that good public policy is best achieved when policymakers have access to high quality information, political processes are open and well-understood, and citizens are informed and active participants, The Harkin Institute offers programming, experiences, research, and connectivity focused on the areas that defined Senator Harkin’s career: labor and employment, people with disabilities, retirement security, and wellness and nutrition.

Healthy Birth Day, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that created the Count the Kicks® campaign in Iowa in 2008.  The mobile app is the hallmark tool of the Count the Kicks® public health campaign which empowers expectant parents to track their babies’ movements daily in the third trimester of pregnancy. Research shows a change in fetal movement can be the earliest and sometimes only indication that a baby is in distress in utero. More than 24,000 pregnancies end in stillbirth every year in the U.S., according to the CDC.

Address: 2429 University Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50311 Phone: 515-271-3623 Fax Number: 515-271-3631 Email: Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.