IBM, Nutrino Launch Watson-Powered Pregnancy App

IBM teams up with Nutrino to deliver an application to help expectant mothers monitor their health and nutrition while pregnant.

IBM Watson

Nutrino and IBM today announced a new IBM Watson-powered app to provide nutrition recommendations for expectant mothers.

The new Nutrino App Powered by Watson (Nutrino App) provides expectant mothers with real-time, science-based, personalized and contextual nutrition advice. The Nutrino App combines Nutrino’s nutrition insights platform with Watson’s natural language capability and deep question and answer capability to offer personalized meal recommendations and nutritional support.

The Nutrino App is available for download from the Apple App Store and will be available later on Android. The pregnancy service costs $15 for the full 42 weeks.

“Healthy eating — a challenge at any point in our lives — becomes that much more daunting during pregnancy, when a mom-to-be’s nutritional needs can fluctuate week to week,” said Yaron Hadad, PhD., co-founder and chief science officer at Nutrino, in a statement. “The Nutrino App Powered by Watson helps women navigate through a trove of available nutrition information and offers recommendations responsive to a woman’s changing needs throughout her pregnancy.”

The National Institutes of Health estimate that in the U.S. nearly four million women have babies each year. According to a 2014 study published in the journal Maternal Child Health, in general women are not receiving adequate nutrition education during pregnancy.

Although healthcare practitioners perceive nutrition education to be important, barriers to providing education include lack of time, lack of resources and lack of relevant training. An estimated 10,000 nutrition studies are published each year in the English language alone.

When a woman registers for the Nutrino App, she opts to input her pregnancy status, individual health goals, dietary needs, food preferences and eating habits. Other data is collected automatically, such as wearable device data on exercise, sleep and stress. She can then choose from a list of common nutrition questions specific to different stages of pregnancy, such as: Is it ok to eat eggs during my first trimester? Do I need to eat differently if I’m having twins? Triplets? Can I drink coffee? What should I eat to help with heartburn in my third trimester?

“The new app is especially useful for expectant women who use wearable devices to monitor their exercise, sleep and other activities that become even more critical during pregnancy,” Hadad said in a post on the IBM THINK blog. “If the device detects that a woman isn’t sleeping long enough or awakens too often, it might suggest to her, unbidden, to compliment her diet late in the day with foods that contain the natural sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, such as almonds or raspberries.”

Responses are drawn from a Watson-derived analysis of the data stored in the Nutrino insight platform — which currently includes more than 500,000 foods and 100,000 sources — compared against the individual user’s self-reported information.

The Nutrino insights platform also surfaces conflicting nutrition recommendations. Hadad said Nutrino designed the insights platform to understand how reliable each data source is and find a consistent answer or let the woman know what evidence exists. The Nutrino App taps into Watson’s deep learning capability to increasingly tailor the responses to each woman over time, based on the questions she asks and her self-reported data.

Tel Aviv-based Nutrino participated in the IBM Alpha Zone Accelerator Program in Israel, the first and only IBM Accelerator worldwide. The Accelerator supports innovation and seeds start-up companies. IBM Watson initiatives further advance these goals. For example, IBM has allocated $100 million to fund new Watson-powered ideas. Early investments include Pathway Genomics, Welltok and Fluid, among others.

“Much of health happens outside a doctor's office. For women interested in nutrition during pregnancy, the Nutrino App Powered by Watson is a unique resource to help them make informed decisions based on available peer-review evidence,” noted Dr. Kyu Rhee, chief health officer for IBM Watson Health, in a statement. “The Nutrino App has the potential to help a woman get the precise nutrition information she seeks, when she needs it. Speaking as a doctor, I hope women also use the Watson-powered Nutrino app to prompt a conversation with their physician about eating well during pregnancy.”

Nutrino is part of a growing community of startups and established businesses that are leveraging the Watson Developer Cloud, a platform used by more than 77,000 developers globally to pilot, test and deploy new Watson-powered business ideas in industries ranging from health care, financial services and retail to education, music, and sports. The community includes more than 400 Watson ecosystem partners who are commercializing products and services, with more than 100 of which are being used in market.