As expectant and new moms know, having a baby is one of the most wonderful experiences, but it can also be overwhelming. First-time mothers and veteran moms alike have questions about keeping their babies safe and healthy. They’re eager to learn about important areas such as nutrition, immunization, and safe sleep.
To address their questions and concerns, the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) developed text4baby. This free mobile educational service promotes a healthy pregnancy and a healthy start in life for all babies.
With more than 1.3 trillion text messages sent and received in the U.S. in 2009, it makes sense to deliver vital health information through mobile technology. Currently in the United States, more than 500,000 babies – 1 in every 8 – are born prematurely. An estimated 28,000 children die before their first birthday, a rate among the highest in the industrialized world. Premature infants come into the world with unique health needs that can mean lifelong challenges. Text4baby helps to address these issues by allowing timely and useful information to be distributed to help give babies the best possible start in life.
While not everyone has access to the internet, 90 percent of Americans have a mobile phone. Text messaging is soaring in popularity and can be especially helpful in reaching first-time mothers in typically underserved populations.
How It Works
By texting BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411, a woman will be signed up to receive three free text messages each week that are timed to her due date or baby’s date of birth. These messages focus on a variety of topics critical to maternal and child health, including birth defects prevention, immunization, nutrition, seasonal flu, mental health, oral health, and safe sleep. Text4baby text messages also connect women to prenatal and infant care services and other resources.
Wireless carriers are waiving text messaging fees for the initiative, so enrollees opting in to receive text messages will incur no charges. Even users without a text messaging plan or limited texting per month will receive these messages for free.
To date, text4baby has sent more than five million English and Spanish text messages to more than 83,000 pregnant and new mothers. According to text4baby enrollment numbers, 96 percent of participants would recommend the service to a friend. 67 percent of the enrollees are receiving information about pregnancy, while the remaining 33 percent are getting information about newborns.
“For those of us dedicated to health education, knowing that text4baby messages are reaching the women who are most in need of them is incredibly powerful and exciting,” said Judy Meehan, CEO of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition.Â “Thanks to our partnership with CTIA-The Wireless Foundation and the mobile carriers, more than 5 million valuable health messages have been put in the hands of thousands of pregnant women since our February 4 launch.”
Text4baby is made possible through a public-private partnership that includes more than 350 organizations. The program’s founding partners include CTIA-The Wireless Foundation.
For more information, or to sign-up to receive the free text messages, visit www.text4baby.org.