Text4babyUpdate: 250,000 Moms and Counting

Nov 29, 2011, 7:19 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth


A webinar convened today by Text4baby, a two-year-old project founded by partners that include the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, shows the program is getting moms’ attention. Expectant mothers sign on for the text messaging service to receive three messages a week tailored to where they are in their pregnancy or baby’s first year. The goal is to reduce the number of babies born prematurely, and improve the health of mothers and their babies, particularly in their first year of life. The program numbers and innovations are impressive:

  • More than 250,000 people have enrolled in text4baby since its 2009 launch
  • 96 percent of text4baby users surveyed said they would refer text4baby to a friend
  • More than 130,000 people have signed up to receive pregnancy-focused messages
  • More than 120,000 people receive messages focused on baby’s first year

While most of the messages have been one-way informational ones, the project tested an interactive conversation recently with a flu module that asked users about their plans for a flu shot. Responders used numbers on the cell phone key pad to reply. For example, keying in the number “3” was the reply for cost being a factor in not getting the flu vaccine, which prompted the system to send out resources for free and low-cost shots. Moms who responded that they hadn’t yet gotten the vaccine will get updated messages next month to find out if they followed through.

And next year text4baby hopes to continue the interactivity relationship with moms by sending reminders about well baby and maternal checkups based on appointment dates moms key in, says Lauren Sogor, the campaign manager for text4baby.

The system was also used for critical emergency messages recently, says Sogor. Immediately after flooding in the east coast in the late summer, health information specialists keyed in and dispatched information to subscribers in affected zip codes, about the dangers posed by certain portable heaters often used when there are power outages.

>>Read more on innovations in health and technology.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.