Today was a great day in the world of maternal and child health! A historic day as well with the launch of Text4Baby, a free mobile health service for soon-to-be moms and new moms.
A partnership between the technology industry, government and the health community, Text4Baby is an educational program of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) that will deliver timely health tips via text message to those who need it most. Partners include the White House Office on Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 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.
This is a great opportunity to not only showcase the success of public-private partnerships, but also demonstrate how utilizing technology can help mothers and pregnant women make informed decisions about their health and the healthy of their baby. Text4Baby is going to be critical to the health of our country for so many reasons:
- By using text messaging on cell phones, this partnership uses a technology that has already been widely adopted. Research shows that 90 percent of Americans have a mobile phone, and texting is more prevalent among women of childbearing age and minority populations who face higher infant mortality rates.
- It provides the information moms need to keep themselves and their babies healthy. These are short messages, but incredibly important. The messages focus on topics critical to the health of moms and babies, including immunization, nutrition, seasonal flu, mental health, smoking and alcohol, oral health, and safe sleep.
- It could help save lives and reduce the number of premature births in America. More than 500,000 babies – 1 in every 8 – are born prematurely each year in the US. Premature babies can face lifelong health and intellectual development problems. The risk of premature birth can be reduced if moms take care of themselves and their babies during pregnancy (e.g. don’t smoke!) and seek prenatal care. Text4Baby can help by giving moms information and connecting them to care.
- It could save America money on health care costs. This free service could save us money by ensuring moms are connected to health knowledge and services as early as possible. Catching problems early can help avoid expensive and potentially harmful complications at birth and in the first year of life. This helps families as well – the average first year medical costs for premature babies are about 10 times greater than for full-term babies.
The National Healthy Start Association is proud to be one of the many outreach partners for this Initiative including the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, March of Dimes, American Public Health Association, National Association of County and City Health Officials, National WIC Association and Postpartum Support International.
We just ask that you spread the word about Text4Baby and encourage women you know to sign up on the website (www.text4baby.org) for free or text BABY to 511411!