Health text messaging service now starts in Mobile

Expectant moms are getting a little help from a public-private partnership offering to send weekly text messages designed to promote mother and child health through the baby’s first year.

The program, entitled Text4baby, was announced Thursday by Aneesh Chopra, the federal chief technology officer and associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Participating wireless service providers include AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Alltel, Boost Mobile, Metro PCS, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, Virgin Mobile USA, and others.

To join Text4baby, an expectant mother only needs to text "baby," or "bebe" in Spanish, to 511411. Subscribers will get three text messages each week at no charge. The content will be timed to a baby’s due date or data of birth and focus on a vary of topics, including birth defects prevention, immunization, nutrition, seasonal flu, mental health, oral health and safe sleep. The messages also connect women to prenatal and infant care services and other resources.

Text4baby is the first free nationwide mobile health service in the United States, Chopra said. "Text4baby represents an extraordinary opportunity to expand the way we use our phones, to demonstrate the potential of mobile health technology, and make a real difference for moms and babies across the country."

Organizers are hoping to reach the economically disadvantaged who may not have ready access to the information being offered. The U.S. infant mortality rate, one of the highest in the industrialized world, is on the rise for the first time since the 1950s, according to government health officials. More than 500,000 babies are born prematurely and about 28,000 children die before their first birthday.

Founding partners of the program include the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition; Voxiva, the CTIA – The Wireless Foundation, The Grey Healthcare Group, and Johnson & Johnson. Sponsors span spans government, business and non-profit organizations.


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