Coalition of groups launches text initiative to help low-income moms

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Nonprofit the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition and the US Office of Science and Technology Policy are spearheading “Text4Baby,” a free mobile health initiative aimed at low-income, pregnant women and new mothers. The group is working with mobile technology platform Voxiva and various mobile providers on the cause effort, which launched February 4.

Women can sign up for the program by texting BABY, or BEBE in Spanish, to 511411. Once they opt in, users will be asked their due date and will receive three texts per week before the baby's birth, as well as for the first year of parenthood. The text messages include health tips timed for the mother's pregnancy or the baby's age. Users can also sign up online on the main campaign site.

Paul Meyer, chairman and president of Voxiva, said mobile is the best way to reach low-income moms because this group is less likely to be online.

“We want to reach an audience who might not have the resources to find information they need for a healthy pregnancy,” he said. “Ninety percent of Americans have mobile phones, so texting is the easiest way to start a digital relationship with anyone.

“Only 50% of those with chronic conditions have Internet access,” Meyer continued. “So even if you have a 100% adoption of a Web-based health behavioral change, you're still only halfway there.”

All program texts are free. “All the major carriers in the country signed on and agreed to let these texts be free for their users,” Meyer noted.

There are no ads within the texts, and users can opt-out at any time.

More than 100 companies have signed on as partners, including MTV, which will promote the effort on its show Teen Mom, as well as the CTIA Wireless Foundation and Grey Health Group. Premier sponsors include WellPoint, Pfizer and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield.

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