Big Data Can Tell if You're Pregnant

You might think you have your pregnancy under wraps in that first trimester—but as it turns out, there might be a way for employers to tell if you're expecting.

Big Data Can Tell if You're Pregnant Blan-k/Shutterstock

In today's technology-can-be-really-creepy-sometimes news, it turns out there's a way to pinpoint a complete stranger's pregnancy. Word on the street (and by 'the street,' we mean The Verge) is that big data can predict the health needs of potential employees. What does this mean? Basically that, in order to keep rising healthcare costs down, employers might be turning to wellness firms like Castlight Health or Welltok. These firms gather data from insurers to predict conditions that could affect employers.

The data can also include information about where you shop and whether or not you vote in midterm elections. For example, companies like Walmart contract with the firms to provide data that may help consumers lead healthier lives.

Privacy advocates are rightly concerned about these methods. Here's how it affects pregnant women: Castlight looks at variables like a woman's age, the number of children she has, any fertility-related searches she's performed on her health and whether she's recently stopped filling her birth control prescriptions, which can tip firms off to whether or not you could be expecting. They calculate the likelihood of your pregnancy based on these factors.

But while many have made the connection between Castlight's work with employers and their possible ability to predict your pregnancy, the company insists they do not share this information with potential employers. Castlight allegedly provides benefits managers with information about their employee populations—but not this pregnancy-related data.

So there you have it. These companies are reportedly not sharing intimate data about whether or not you're pregnant with your employers—but there may be a way for them to guess whether or not you are. Does this make you uncomfortable?