Text4Baby Makes Important Health Connections

They say babies don’t come with an instruction manual, but thanks to an innovative program called text4baby, expectant and new mothers may have the next best thing.

Text4baby was launched by the National Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition to provide pregnant women and new moms with health and wellness information so their babies get the best possible start in life. Locally, the program is promoted by First 5 San Diego.

“Text4baby provides relevant, targeted information to pregnant women and new parents,” said Kim Medeiros, Executive Director of First 5 San Diego. “This critical information can lead to healthier pregnancies and safe births.

“Text4baby fits right into the objectives of the County’s Live Well, San Diego! 10-year plan to build better health among its residents by improving access to healthy choices.”

First 5 San Diego provided $82,500 for community outreach to help enroll new parents and expectant mothers in text4baby. Their goal was to enroll 1,800 participants by end of 2011 but the outreach has been more successful and nearly 3,000 were signed up as of January, 2012.

“Studies show that nearly 90 percent of Americans have cell phones and 18 percent of U.S. households are cell-phone only homes,” said Medeiros. “While text4baby messages can benefit anyone starting a family, they are particularly important messages for populations who are difficult to reach.

We are telling parents that registration in the program is easy and can be done from your phone or online, said Medeiros. Simply use your cell phone to text the word BABY to the number 511411 or BEBE to the same number to receive messages in Spanish. You will be prompted to enter your baby’s due date or birthday and your zip code. You can also sign up by visiting www.text4baby.org

You will begin receiving free messages about three times a week with tips for the pregnancy or caring for your baby, Medeiros said. (Once your baby is born, you simply text UPDATE with your baby’s birthday to the same 511411 number so you start receiving information for your baby’s first year).

The support of The Wireless Foundation – comprised of all the major cell phone companies – allows text4baby to be totally free regardless of your cell phone plan. Even individuals without text messaging plans on their phones can receive the texts free of charge.

To celebrate the first two years of the program, First 5 San Diego, text4baby, Alliance Healthcare Foundation, UC San Diego Health System and the San Diego County Medical Society Foundation are having a free event for expectant and new families at the UCSD Thornton Hospital, 9300 Campus Point Drive, La Jolla, on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The event will feature a health fair, presentations by healthcare leaders, prizes and a swap meet for baby clothing, toys and equipment. The event is free, but parking at UCSD is $4.

Source: San Diego County News Center http://countynewscenter.com/news/text4baby-makes-important-health-connections