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Text messages aid moms in infant care

by Olga Deshchenko, DOTmed News Reporter | July 05, 2011
OMG, baby kicked! TTYL!
From the May 2011 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Pregnant women can now take advantage of a free texting service that provides expecting mothers with relevant tips and reminders throughout their pregnancy.

Once moms-to-be sign up for the service, they receive information about nutrition and health three times a week throughout their pregnancy and up to their baby’s first birthday.

[The surprising truth about America's infant mortality rate. Read it here]

Text4Baby, a public-private partnership, was launched in 2010 by Aneesh Chopre, the U.S. chief technology officer at the Office of Science and Technology Policy. By the time the service celebrated its one year in business, 135,000 women had subscribed to the program.

When an expectant mother texts the word “baby” to 511411 (or “bebe” for Spanish-speakers), she is asked to enter her due date or the baby’s birthday and her zip code. She’ll then start receiving messages customized to the stage of her pregnancy and helpful tips, such as breastfeeding advice and information about smoking cessation programs.

To develop and implement the free messaging service, Text4baby established a partnership between government agencies, private companies, academic institutions, nonprofit organizations and health care professionals. For example, Johnson & Johnson is the founding sponsor and Voxiva, a global mobile health company, administers the technological aspects of Text4Baby.

Health officials are now working on evaluating the effects of the texting program, conducted by the Health Resources and Service Administration. The Department of Health and Human Services also created a Text4Health taskforce to examine how the outcomes of the Text4Baby program can be best applied to other public health concerns, such as smoking and obesity.

Voxiva has plans to expand the program’s services in the near future. It will introduce Quit4Baby, a smoking cessation text message service, and TextFit, which will deliver information on healthy nutrition.

More than 250 partners, including health plans and statewide coalitions, are promoting Text4Baby nationwide.

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