New Text4baby program uses mobile phones to spread information about healthy pregnancy and infancy
Every mom-to-be and new mom wants the absolute best for their babies. A healthy pregnancy, a healthy delivery, and a healthy infancy also help to give a baby the best chance for a healthy and successful life. But knowing how best to maintain a healthy pregnancy, or promote a healthy birth, or keep an infant healthy isn’t always easy. Wouldn’t it be great to have reliable evidence-based information about healthy pregnancy and infancy delivered right to you?
The text4baby program, launched on February 4, does exactly that. Text4baby is a free service that delivers evidence-based health information about pregnancy and baby’s first year directly to the cell phones or mobile devices of moms-to-be and new moms. This public-private partnership of government agencies—including the NICHD—non-profit organizations, and private industry will be the largest national mobile health initiative to date, using mobile phones and devices to deliver specific health-related information.
Surveys indicate that more than 90 percent of Americans have cell phones. In 2009, Americans sent more than 1 trillion short message service (SMS) messages—such as text messages. Text4baby will use a free text message service to distribute timely health-related text messages to English- and Spanish-speaking women, empowering them to give their babies the best possible start in life. Women will “opt-in” to the free service, which will provide text messages with information specific to their stage of pregnancy, and later to the baby’s age.
Because it relies on mobile phones and devices, text4baby is a critical tool for reaching certain groups that might not have access or respond to traditional information channels. For example, younger women, women with lower incomes, and women in minority communities are more likely to have mobile phones than they are to have Internet service. Women in these groups are also at higher risk for preterm labor and delivery and for having infants who are born at low weights, which can increase risks for health problems later in life. Getting valuable information about pregnancy and baby’s first year directly to these audiences could make a big difference in improving outcomes for mothers and babies.
The text4baby effort is being led by the National Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition, a group of more than 100 local, state, and national organizations dedicated to maternal and child health, in collaboration with government partners, including the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (NICHD, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and others). CTIA-The Wireless Association, a international non-profit organization for the wireless communications industry, negotiated with the major cellular phone carriers to provide the service for free, and Voxiva, a mobile information solutions provider, developed the technology for text4baby. Johnson & Johnson, WellPoint, Pfizer, and other companies also support the program. All user data will be encrypted and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant, and such information will not be shared with any third parties.
Text4baby complements the NICHD’s efforts to achieve key aspects of its mission, including ensuring that every child is born healthy and stays healthy. Among the text4baby messages related to the NICHD portfolio are those about prenatal care, pregnancy, high-risk pregnancy, preterm labor and birth, breastfeeding, reducing the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), Tummy Time, and infant health—among others. The program will also include messages about health care access, nutrition, medications, drugs and alcohol, smoking, physical activity, emotional issues and mental health, breastfeeding, car seat safety, oral health, and other topics.
If you are interested in signing up for this new free service, please visit http://www.text4baby.org, or text BABY to 511411 from your mobile device. For Spanish, text BEBE to 511411.
Originally Posted: February 5, 2010
All NICHD Spotlights