15 FebTexting program targets new moms

Popular technology is connecting expectant and new mothers with health and safety information about themselves and their new babies.

The national Text4Baby program aims to increase women’s health knowledge, facilitate interaction with doctors, and improve appointment and immunization adherence.

In an effort to get more New Mexico women enrolled in the texting program, the New Mexico Department of Health is participating in the Text4Baby State Enrollment Contest. Women who text “baby” (or “bebe” for Spanish) to 511411 receive three text messages a week, timed to their due date or their baby’s birth date. The text information is sent during a pregnancy and up until the baby’s first birthday.

The text messages — which are free on many major cell phone service providers — address topics such as prenatal care, labor and delivery, safe sleep, immunization, breastfeeding, nutrition, immunization, physical activity, injury prevention, mental health, developmental milestones, car seat safety, substance abuse and exercise.

The program “gives expectant and new mothers the critical, bilingual information they need to take charge of both their health and their babies,” said state Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Retta Ward.

As part of the contest, states enrolling the highest percentage of women in Text4Baby before Oct. 21 will be announced and recognized during the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in Boston in early November.

Since its launch in 2010 under the leadership of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition — a nonprofit with a 30-year history of supporting health education for mothers and babies — Text4Baby has reached more than 530,000 women with the support of more than 950 federal, state, local and corporate partners who are consulted to ensure medical accuracy and design the messages to be “relevant, clear, understandable, and actionable by mothers of all literacy levels,” according to the program, which notes “too many babies in the U.S. are dying or are not given a healthy start…The service was created to help address the overwhelming infant mortality rate in the U.S., with 1 in every 8 babies born prematurely and 28,000 deaths each year.”

The entities that make up the Content Development Council for Text4Baby are the American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Nurse-Midwives, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Association of Women’s Health-Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Resources and Services Administration, March of Dimes, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.