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Big Pregnancy Data

Parents-to-be are awash with data — both genetic and product data, the Atlantic reports.

There used to be just snippets of information that a parent-to-be could glean during the course of a pregnancy. Now, though, prenatal genetic screening can increasingly look at more and more conditions earlier in pregnancy. At the same time, marketers are increasingly drawing on indications that someone is expecting to in potential customers.

"The genetics of conceiving a baby is only the first analysis in the network of data that forms during pregnancy. Like a spider web, the complexity builds, offering both a biologist's banquet and a marketer's dream," writes Nathalia Holt at the Atlantic.

Prenatal genetic screening, she notes, was unheard of just a few years ago and is becoming increasingly common as tests like Harmony, Verifi, MaternitiT21, and Panorama are now on offer.

These tests, Holt says, offer more information, though she says there is a risk of too much information, especially as tests may expand to include estimates of cancer or diabetes risk or even hereditary baldness.

At the same time, data from prospective mothers is worth 15 times more than others to marketers, Holt notes, as a new baby means big purchases. Marketers have been able to try to sell pregnancy and infant-related items to prospective parents that correspond to the progression of the pregnancy.

"Made possible by breakthrough technology, both approaches are having a radical influence on pregnancy today," Holt says. "Nine months of big data that hold infinite promise and worrisome risk."

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