Newswise — University of Chicago Medicine researchers hope a new app will help young women have healthier pregnancies—by encouraging them to lengthen the amount of time between having babies.

The project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, will initially pilot a toolkit for African-American girls and women ages 15 to 25 in Englewood. They hope to eventually expand to serve all adolescents. Short inter-pregnancy intervals (called IPIs) are pregnancies that occur within 18 months of a previous birth. And they’ve been linked to health problems, being identified as an issue of national importance in Healthy People 2020’s 10-year agenda for improving the nation’s heath.

The Center for Interdisciplinary Inquiry and Innovation (Ci3) in Sexual and Reproductive Health at UChicago Medicine will develop an app and other multimedia tools for the Englewood participants. In Englewood, 25 percent of adolescents have short IPIs, which is more than five percent more than the national average.

The project will be led by Ci3’s founder and director, Melissa Gilliam, MD in partnership with Resilient Games Studio, LLC, and Access Community Health Network’s Center for Discovery and Learning, an NIH-funded, community-based research center.

“As this generation of digital natives comes of age, it is time to rethink and retool the clinical visit,” said Gilliam.

The Patient-Centered Postpartum Contraceptive Toolkit was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.