Program provides important health information to expectant and new moms on their mobile devices
text4baby is a free service that delivers important health information about the stages of pregnancy and baby’s first year to the cell phones and mobile devices of moms-to-be and new moms. Since its launch in February 2010, the program has sent more than 62 million messages. With more than 500,000 subscribers, text4baby is the largest “app” of its kind.
Anybody can sign up for the service, which sends text messages with reliable, evidence-based health information about the stages of pregnancy and baby’s first year. Messages are available in either English or Spanish and arrive up to three times a week.
The NICHD is one of the original members of the public-private partnership of government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private companies involved in this unique coalition. The National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition leads the text4baby effort along with a group of more than 100 local, state, and national organizations dedicated to maternal and child health. The text4baby program provides the NICHD with a direct and special way to share its evidence-based health messages. Learn more about text4baby by selecting a link below.
A 3-Year Checkup for the Program
The text4baby messages encourage women to make healthy choices for themselves and their children during and after pregnancy. The messages deliver critical health tips about what to expect during pregnancy and childbirth, how to maintain a healthy pregnancy, infant care and parenting, and other topics.
For example, the messages remind pregnant women to get a flu shot and keep prenatal care appointments. Messages for new parents include reminders about having their baby vaccinated and how to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and other sleep-related causes of infant death. The information often comes with a toll-free telephone number or URL for further information.
An important aim of the program is to encourage women to get prenatal and postnatal care. This is especially important for those who might not have access to traditional information channels. The coalition chose to use texting to deliver its messages because cell phones are readily available and many women who are of childbearing age are comfortable with text messaging. These critical health messages can make a big difference in improving outcomes for mothers and babies.
A 3-Year Checkup for the Program
Like all 3-year-olds, the text4baby program needs a checkup to see how well it is doing at meeting its goals and improving outcomes. The National Latino Research Center and the University of California San Diego evaluated text4baby and found that:
- 65% of respondents reported that text4baby helped them remember an appointment or immunization that they or their child needed.
- 74% reported that text4baby messages informed them of medical warning signs that they did not know.
- 67% reported talking to their doctor about a topic that they read on a text4baby message.
Another study by George Washington University found that text4baby participants were three times more likely to believe that they were prepared to be new mothers than those unfamiliar with text4baby. Further, the Alliance of Chicago Community Health Services showed a lower percentage of missed appointments by text4baby subscribers (11%) versus non-subscribers (17%).
Other measures of the program’s effectiveness include consumer testimonials on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. To date, the program has more than 28,000 “Likes” on Facebook and 5,400 followers on Twitter. Facebook also provides a lively and honest forum to discuss the program and other issues of interest to new and expectant moms. The text4baby YouTube Channel has already received more than 14,000 views. The program also provides other ways for families and potential partners, including health care organizations and businesses, to get involved .
As text4baby enters its toddler years, the program is expanding to add new health messages, including those related to avoiding cesarean delivery for non-medical reasons before 39 weeks of pregnancy—one of the focus areas of the NICHD’s National Child and Maternal Health Education Program and the subject of the Program’s Is It Worth It? videos.
The NICHD is pleased to be a part of this unique and important program and looks forward to watching it grow.
For more information about text4baby and related efforts, select one of the following links:
- NICHD Resources
- NICHD Spotlights
- Related A to Z Health Topics:
- NICHD Related Public Education Campaigns and Programs
- text4baby Homepage
- California State University San Marcos National Latino Research Center, and University of California San Diego. text4baby Evaluation Results. Maternal & Newborn Health: text4baby San Diego. Available at: http://www.csusm.edu/nlrc/documents/report_archives/Text4Baby_SanDiego_Evaluation_Overview.pdf (PDF - 515 KB).
- Evan, W., Wallace, J., and Snider, J. Pilot evaluation of the text4baby mobile health program, BMC Public Health, 12. Available at http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2458/12/1031/abstract .
Originally Posted: March 27, 2013