In honor of National Women's Health Week, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) hosted a briefing on the text4baby program, an innovative service that provides prenatal advice and healthy lifestyle tips to expectant mothers in a text-message format, free of charge.
Text4baby is the largest mobile health initiative in the country and in just over two years has enrolled over 345,000 individuals in the service.
Text4baby messages are tailored to the woman's projected due date or baby's birth date and are sent three times a week in English or Spanish until the baby reaches his or her first birthday. As the first free health text messaging service in the United States, text4baby is working with more than 780 public and private partners, including the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, with the goal of improving prenatal and postnatal health.
"The text4baby program is a proven tool that helps accomplish one of my top health care priorities -- helping patients get better health outcomes for less money. This free and simple tool can help ensure healthier pregnancies and reduce health care costs that stem from a lack of access to important information about prenatal health. Together, text4baby and its partners work to promote better health by helping to provide moms and dads with the information they need to have the healthiest pregnancy possible -- that's an idea that we can all applaud. I encourage expecting parents who have not done so already to utilize this helpful tool," Carper said.
"This program is commendable because it merges a common communications tool with free information to help parents provide the best care for their babies. It gives states like Mississippi, which are faced with addressing high infant mortality and teenage pregnancy rates, more resources for parental advice and guidance. As public and private organizations look toward the future of health care, I am hopeful that this type of program will be widely used," Cochran said.
"Text4baby is an innovative program that serves as a model for public health outreach and wellness efforts. In Louisiana we have high rates of babies born pre-term or at a low birth weight, and higher than average rates of infant mortality. We must do everything we can to improve these tragic statistics, and the text4baby program can be an important part of the solution. I look forward to seeing even more women in Louisiana signing up for text4baby," Landrieu said.
"During National Women's Health Week, I'm pleased to cohost this briefing on the text4baby program, an innovative public-private partnership aimed at helping reduce birth complications and infant mortality. As the mother of two children, I'm especially proud of New Hampshire's performance in last year's text4baby State Enrollment Contest, and I look forward to encouraging more new and expectant mothers to enroll in the text4baby program," Ayotte said.
At the Thursday briefing, maternal and child health experts discussed how increasing access to health care through the innovative use of technology is leading to more affordable health care and better health outcomes for mothers and their newborn children. The panelists examined the benefits of the text4baby program to facilitate interactions with health providers and improve adherence to appointments and immunizations.
Participating panelists included: Scott C. Ratzan, MD, MPA, Vice President, Global Health, Johnson & Johnson; Steve Largent, President & CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association; Lissa A. Sirois, New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services; and Yvette LaCoursiere of the University of California-San Diego's Department of Reproductive Medicine. The panel also featured Natasha Robinson, a text4baby user who described her experience with the program and shared how text4baby helped her through pregnancy and the first year of her baby's life.
The briefing also served as the launch of the 2012 Text4baby State Enrollment Contest. From May through October, states and territories will be encouraging moms to sign up for text4baby. The top states that enroll the highest percentage of pregnant women and mothers in the text4baby service during the contest period will be the winners and offered national exposure.
Judy Meehan, CEO of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, said, "The State Enrollment Contest is an exciting opportunity to foster healthy competition and connect more women to health care."
Text4baby's founding partners include the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, Voxiva, CTIA -- The Wireless Foundation, Grey Healthcare Group (a WPP company) and founding sponsor Johnson & Johnson. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) joined text4baby as a supporting partner of today's briefing.
To learn more about text4baby and the 2012 State Enrollment Contest, please visit http://www.text4baby.org/