February 4th, 2010

White House Launches text4baby

When my son Alex was small, his baby sitter told us of a horrible personal tragedy that befell her young niece. This seemingly healthy young woman died in childbirth. As the details of the tragedy came to light it became apparent to me – and the family — that with proper prenatal care, the outcome may have been different. 

Earlier today, the White House announced the launch of a new public health initiative, text4baby  – the US’s first-ever free mobile health service that provides timely and expert health information through SMS text messages for pregnant women and new moms. Simply by texting “BABY” to 511411 (or “BEBE” for Spanish language services) women can receive three free SMS text messages each week timed to their due date or to the baby’s date of birth that provide a wealth of information about the health of both mother and baby through the baby’s first year. 

According to a release issued by the White House the infant mortality rate in the US is one of the highest in the industrialized world – each year, about 500,000 babies are born prematurely and an estimated 28,000 children die before their first birthday.  This new text service is one effort to help address this situation.

Johnson & Johnson is one of the founding sponsors of this initiative, and there is a fascinating story showing how this service can benefit a first-time mother on our corporate website. In addition, BabyCenter, one of our operating companies and a development partner in creating the text4baby content in English and Spanish, has some useful information and great tips for new and expectant moms on its site.

I’m a great believer in the way in which access to useful information can help improve health outcomes.  Text4baby hopefully will help underserved moms and expectant moms gain access to knowledge that can improve address the issues of mother and baby health in the US.

UPDATE: Margaret has an interesting history of Johnson & Johnson’s role in providing information for moms and expectant moms over at Kilmer House.

8 Responses to “White House Launches text4baby”

  1. Text 4 Baby Scam says

    This is obviously a corporate take over of the White House. They couldn’t get the socialized medicine plan passed through, so they are chipping away at what little privacy people still have. People are going to willingly give them their phone numbers so corporations can market to them directly. Big pharma is going to push through vaccinizing every baby with every fly by night vaccine of the past 30 years they came up with, and called “vaccine”.

    If it were not obvious before, the white house is for sale and spinning out of control.

    A woman should only receive prenatal advice from her mom and her doctor, not the white house and its corporate sponsors.

  2. Carla says

    Yes, the Goverment is involved with Corporate America. Yes, we all know that our 1st source of information should come from our OB doctor. However, what about those women who have not or will not see a doctor until some unforseen emergency or when they are in labor and show up to a hospital for delivery!

  3. Theresa says

    I do understand the concern with Corporate America being involved, but I do feel this will provide valuable information and ultimately reduce premature births and reduce health care costs by providing weekly, timed to due date information such as taking folic acid during pregnancy in addition to prenatal vitamins to reduce to risk of neural tube defects, or discussing “fetal kick counts” to determine fetal well being, or discuss cramping and lower back pain in regard to preterm labor. Yes, the doctor should be discussing all of this with the client, but if helpful tips and reminders are sent to a pregnant mom that perhaps isn’t taking folic acid with her prenatal vitamins, or is experiencing lower back pain and/or cramping, these texts may prompt her to have a conversation with her doctor which she may not have otherwise done.

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