Texting for knowledge: Making a difference for pregnant women and babies

February marks the 3rd birthday for text4baby – the largest and only free health text messaging service in the U.S. for pregnant women and new moms. Since its launch text4baby has reached more than half a million moms and delivered more than 60 million health tips, reminders, and critical alerts via text message.

Did you know that the infant mortality rate in the United States is higher than most developed countries? Many preventable factors contribute to these negative outcomes including lack of access to prenatal care, negative health behaviors such as smoking or substance abuse, poverty, and unsafe sleep for baby. Ensuring that pregnant women are well informed about their pregnancies, connected to available health resources, and getting prenatal care can help. That’s why I’m proud to be a part of the text4baby initiative, the largest and only free health text messaging service in the U.S. for pregnant women and new moms.

Photo Credit: Flickr, Christiana Care

Text4baby is a free SMS health and safety information service that delivers three text messages per week through pregnancy and baby’s first year, timed to mom’s due date or baby’s birth date. Women sign up by texting BABY or BEBE (for Spanish) to 511411 and entering their due date or the child’s birthday and zip code.

February marks text4baby’s 3rd birthday. Since launch we have reached more than half a million moms and delivered more than 60 million health tips, reminders, and critical alerts via text message. I would like you to join me in celebrating text4baby’s birthday by helping connect more moms to this free service.  Thanks to Johnson & Johnson and CTIA – The Wireless Foundation, the service and promotional materials are entirely free.

Why should you help? Text4baby has been proven effective and over 95% of users say they would refer a friend. A University of California and California State University study showed that text4baby is “increasing users’ health knowledge, facilitating interaction with health providers, improving adherence to appointments and immunizations, and strengthening access to health services.”

Likewise, a George Washington University randomized evaluation found that text4baby participants were “nearly three times more likely to believe that they were prepared to be new mothers compared to those in the no exposure control group.” By letting all the moms you know learn about text4baby, you’re equipping them to give their babies a healthy start. Together, with the over 860 national, state and local partners who are promoting text4baby, we can have an impact on maternal child health in the U.S.  I look forward to working with you!

We encourage everyone to join the conversation! Text4baby is on Facebook and on Twitter @mytext4baby.

About the author: Sarah Ingersoll is the Director of text4baby at the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition