Mom’s Review: text4baby
by Sara Davenport
Are you expecting or have a child under the age of one? Then you can sign up for text4baby, a program that sends moms and moms-to-be information relevant to their baby’s birth or due date. text4baby is a free service, launched in 2010, that aims to increase awareness on maternal care and child health through what has to be the world’s most popular form of communication – text messaging! After all, 91% of adults in the Untied States own cell phones.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), the infant mortality rate in the United States is more than twice that of countries like Japan and Sweden. The National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB), in partnership with Voxiva, an international mobile health leader, created text4baby to reach under-served populations with health information that could ultimately decrease infant mortality and premature birth. In fact, here are a few statistics that may hit a little too close to home for Muscogee Moms’ followers.
- Alabama holds the #2 spot in the United States for infant mortality during the first year of life. In 2013 Alabama’s infant mortality rate was 8.5*, meaning that 8.5 infant deaths occurred per 1000 live births.
- Georgia isn’t too far behind with a rate of 6.9*.
- Mississippi holds the #1 spot for the nation with an infant mortality rate of 9.9*.
*The ranks are based on a two-year average using the most recently available data from the National Center for Health Statistics. – See more at: http://www.americashealthrankings.org/GA/IMR/2011#sthash.ygEErS7u.dpuf.
How does text4baby work?
Subscribers to text4baby receive three text messages per week reminding them to make regular prenatal appointments as well as passing on a variety of information on subjects from postpartum depression to safe sleeping positions for baby. Thanks to founding sponsor, Johnson & Johnson, and the wireless carriers listed below, text messages are completely free even if a subscriber has a pre-paid or pay-as-you-go plan.
- Assurance Wireless
- Bluegrass Cellular
- Boost Mobile
- Cincinnati Bell
- Nex-Tech Wireless
- U.S. Cellular®
- Verizon Wireless
- Virgin Mobile U.S.A.
Signing up for text4baby couldn’t be easier. If you have a home computer, visit www.text4baby.org and click on the SIGN UP tab at the top of the screen. You’ll just need to enter your zip code, due date, and mobile phone number. If you don’t have access to a computer, you can text BABY to 511411. Habla español? Text BEBE to 511411.
My children are over the age of two, so I signed up for text4baby using a friend’s due date of July 14th. It literally took me seconds to sign up. I immediately received a text welcoming me to the program and, of course, the very important disclaimer stating that messages from text4baby do not take the place of professional medical advice and care.
Since signing up I’ve received texts about how to incorporate more folic acid into my diet, not starting/stopping medications before speaking to a doctor, and that pre-natal care can be provided by obstetricians, family doctors and midwives. Some of these texts have links to phone numbers or websites for additional information relating to the message content, such as a list of medical care providers or obtaining information on which OTC (over the counter) medications are safe during pregnancy.
As a general rule subscribers can’t message back and forth with text4baby, however, there will be the occasional text message survey question that lets a subscriber respond back using a multiple choice list. Also, not all messages are informative. text4baby makes a point to send messages about the joy of motherhood so moms can get excited about their pregnancy or their baby’s milestones.
Making an Impact:
I contacted Rachel Griffith, Communications Manager for text4baby, to get some basic information and statistics on the program. Per text4baby’s program summary, it really seems like this program is making a positive impact on it’s subscribers. The main point that struck me was the results of a study conducted by the University of California San Diego and California State University San Marcos with text4baby subscribers. This study states that:
• 74% of users learned about medical warning signs they did not previously know
• 67% of users reported they talked to their doctor about a topic they read on a text4baby message
• 65% of users reported text4baby helped them remember an appointment or immunization
If nothing else, text4baby got more patients and practitioners in the same room by reminding subscribers of their appointments and helping facilitate discussions on maternal and infant health. These are mainly women you wouldn’t typically find perusing through the newest edition of What To Expect When You’re Expecting or attending childbirth classes. By sending much needed information and reminders directly into the palm of their hands, text4baby is giving mothers and babies a better chance at a healthy start and I think that’s pretty amazing!
To learn more about text4baby or to sign up as a subscriber, visit www.text4baby.org.