Local News

Free service offers parents weekly information

Under a new nationwide program, expecting women can gain information on maternal and child health instantly through text messages.

Date: 5/22/2010

Posted by Center for Children and Families on 5/24/2010


By RACHAEL GRAY

rgray@gctelegram.com

Photo illustration by Laurie Sisk/Telegram Text4baby is a free  mobile information service that sends weekly text information on topics  critical to the health of mothers and babies. The texts continue until  the child is one year old.Photo illustration by Laurie Sisk/Telegram Text4baby is a free mobile information service that sends weekly text information on topics critical to the health of mothers and babies. The texts continue until the child is one year old.

The program, Text4baby is a free service designed to promote maternal and child health, and is an educational program of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition.

Women who sign up for the free service by texting BABY to 511411, or BEBE for Spanish, will receive free text messages each week, timed to their due date or baby's date of birth.

The messages focus on topics critical to the health of moms and babies, including immunization, nutrition, seasonal flu, mental health, smoking and alcohol, oral health and safe sleep, according to a release from the University of Kansas.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment announced the promotion of the program last week in Topeka.

Verna Weber, executive director of the Center for Children and Families at St. Catherine Hospital, said the texts continue until the child turns one year old. She said the service gives mothers "very down to earth tips" that could improve the health of both the baby and the mother.

Weber said the center is promoting the program through LAUNCH, or Linking Actions for Unmet Needs in Children's Health.

"We're promoting it because it's an easy, unobtrusive way to get information to mothers," Weber said.

The program is geared towards young mothers, but the information is applicable to mothers and health care providers of any age.

She said Kansas is one of the leading states that is promoting the program.

"We're trying to measure how many are registered. We want to make sure lots of pregnant women are aware of it. It's a nationwide collaboration to get the information out," she said.

Darlene Lindskog, mothers and infants nurse coordinator at the Finney County Health Department, also is promoting the program to expecting mothers.

She said a lot of information is available on the Internet or in books for mothers, but the Text4baby program puts the information right into the palm of the mother's hands.

"The program will give mothers information they might not otherwise seek. It's really beneficial for young mothers, because that generation has such a strong connection with their cell phones. It's what we're coming to -- everything at their finger tips," she said.

Lindskog said she was encouraged with the program. The health department has been distributing information on the program, and has posters in both English and Spanish. Information about the program is offered in English, Spanish and Somali. The text messages are offered in English or Spanish.

Lindskog encouraged all expectant women to use the service.

"If they can receive text messages, they can participate and have the opportunity to educate themselves through the baby's first year," she said.

She said the program is new, and she isn't familiar with other similar programs.

"This is completely new. That's why it's so exciting. It encourages people to actively seek education," she said.

Weber and Lindskog said anyone can sign up for the service -- young mothers, older mothers, health care providers and fathers.



For more information: http://www.gctelegram.com/news/text4baby-5-22-10