It was when Oxford-trained child psychologist Dr. Jin Lee and her husband were expecting their first child that they began thinking about the various stages of their baby’s growth. Unable to find one comprehensive resource to help them manage their parenting journey, Dr. Lee launched BabyNoggin—an app-based platform that helps parents track the various stages of their baby’s growth and screen for early detection of developmental delays.
Today, the two-year-old startup boasts a team of child development experts and pediatricians committed to helping parents use the BabyNoggin platform as a tool for early intervention.
Dr. Lee spoke with us about BabyNoggin’s mission to empower parents through their parenting process. Check out our interview below.
Interviewer: You’ve had an interesting career journey in the health services and digital health field which must have provided a strong foundation for your venture into your own startup. What led you to create Baby Noggin and what is the mission behind the Baby Noggin experience?
Dr. Lee: BabyNoggin was born out of a personal need. Soon after I said “I do” to my best friend and partner, we started planning for kids. [One day] my husband asked at what stages the baby would be able to see and crawl, or if the baby doesn’t crawl by the standard eight months, how soon we should start to worry? I hesitated. I was amazed that I, who once supervised Oxford medical students in developmental neuropsychology, could forget such simple facts. And if I, with all my education, can’t keep track of these milestones, then how do parents do it?
BabyNoggin’s mission is to help every child reach their full potential. The Center for Disease Control reports one in four children under age five has developmental issues resulting in one million kids every year entering school with an undiagnosed disability. These children lose two to three years of critical intervention where the human brain is most malleable to change and growth. Our goal is to achieve early screening, early intervention, and better health outcomes for every child.
Who are your primary users? What’s important about their experience with the technology?
Our primary users are parents. Some of the most common Google searches for new parents are “Is my baby ok? What’s next? What can I do to help?”. Most parents want to be the best parents they can be, so they are eager to find material that’s tailored to their specific needs.
At BabyNoggin, we understand that every baby develops differently, yet there are normative ranges for every milestone for babies. For example, I recently found out that my 18-month-old is behind in speech. Most parents would think that because she’s learning four languages, it’s normal that she’s only speaking two words. As a child psychologist, I knew that she should be speaking at least four to five words by now. So I was able to get her evaluated by a speech therapist who has given us four pages of activities that we can do with her to help with her speech.
How are pediatricians responding to the use of an app in the process of identifying developmental delays in children?
Most pediatricians agree that an app can be another means to reach those in need. Despite 2001 guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending all pediatricians conduct developmental screenings, roughly only 50 percent nationally are doing so. The most significant barriers to conducting developmental screenings are “lack of time, unfamiliarity with tools, and lack of training”. At BabyNoggin, most pediatricians recognize that shifting the responsibility of screening from pediatricians to parents through an app helps their clinical workflow and increases their parents’ understanding of developmental milestones. Everyone wins.
Talk about the data being shared between doctors and patients. In what ways does the technology provide greater insight into a child’s developmental process beyond general advice to parents typically found in a book or on a parenting website?
When parents answer questions on BabyNoggin, they are answering screening questions recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The app offers personalized activities based on the child’s progress and can be automatically integrated with certain electronic medical records (EMRs). By the time the child sees his/her pediatrician, the doctor already knows if the child is ahead or behind and can better structure the visit to the child’s needs.
What are the ultimate goals for Baby Noggin from a product standpoint?
The ultimate goal is for BabyNoggin to help every child receive appropriate intervention earlier and faster. Early screening and intervention is key given the brain reaches 90 percent of adult size by age three; thus, screening is only our first step.
Thank you to Dr. Jin Lee for discussing BabyNoggin’s mission to increase early-detection during critical stages of a baby’s growth. To learn more about BabyNoggin check out their website here.
Health tech is a rapidly growing field, and we’re passionate about featuring the female perspective in this industry. If you’d like to read about more badass women in health tech, be sure to check out a few past installments of this series by clicking here, here, and here.