Across the country, pregnant women and new moms are signing up for free text messages from text4baby – a new free mobile information service providing timely health information to pregnant women and new moms from pregnancy through a baby’s first year. The Minnesota departments of Health and Education have announced they are outreach partners for text4baby and are actively promoting this free service throughout the state.
Women sign up for the service by texting BABY to 511411 (or BEBE for Spanish) and receive three free text messages each week timed to their due date or baby’s date of birth. The messages focus on a variety of evidence-based best practices in topics critical to maternal and child health, including birth defects prevention, immunization, nutrition, seasonal flu, mental health, oral health and safe sleep. Text4baby messages also connect women to early prenatal and infant care services and other resources that promote healthy birth outcomes.
The content of the text messages was reviewed and tested by the National Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and physicians and nurses.
“We need to provide new and innovative ways for pregnant women to access information about their health and their baby’s development,” said Minnesota health Commissioner Dr. Sanne Magnan. “Text4baby is an excellent opportunity to reach pregnant women and new moms in Minnesota searching for trustworthy information.”
Emerging evidence demonstrates the effectiveness of using mobile technology for health interventions. A recent Pew Research Center study, “Mobile Access 2010,” noted that Americans are using their cell phones for many more activities such as texting and accessing the internet.
“With the growth in the use of cell phones and smart phones, this is a tech-savvy opportunity to bring trusted parenting information quickly and conveniently to pregnant women,” said Minnesota education Commissioner Alice Seagren. “This free service will build on the quality resources and trusted parenting information that the Minnesota Parents Know Website has provided for years.”
An educational program of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB), text4baby is made possible through an unprecedented public-private partnership that includes the White House Office on Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense Military Health System, Voxiva, CTIA-The Wireless Foundation, Grey Healthcare Group (a WPP company) and founding corporate sponsor Johnson & Johnson. Premier sponsors include WellPoint, Pfizer and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and wireless carriers are distributing text messages at no charge to recipients. Implementation partners include BabyCenter, Danya International, Syniverse Technologies, Keynote Systems and The George Washington University. MTV Networks is a media sponsor.
The text4baby wireless carriers are voluntarily providing the critical communications link of the initiative, distributing text messages to recipients at no charge. Participating carriers include Alltel, AT&T, Cellular South, Cellcom, Centennial Cellular, Cincinnati Bell, Metro PCS, N-Telos, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon and Virgin Mobile.
Local health departments and community organizations are encouraged to become outreach partners and help share information about this resource.