National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB)
4401 Ford Avenue, Suite 300
Alexandria, VA 22302
MEDIA CONTACT: Lucia Lodato at 202-944-5122 or Lucia.Lodato@hillandknowlton.com
U.S. CHIEF TECHNOLOGY OFFICER ANNOUNCES UNPRECEDENTED PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP TEXT4BABY
First-Ever Free Mobile Health Service Provides Health Tips to Pregnant Women, New Moms
Washington, D.C., February 4, 2010 – The Federal Chief Technology Officer and an Associate Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Aneesh Chopra announced today the launch of text4baby – an unprecedented mobile health public-private partnership – designed to promote maternal and child health among underserved women. Text4baby – the first-ever free mobile health service in the United States—provides timely and expert health information through SMS text messages to pregnant women and new moms through their babies’ first year.
By texting BABY to 511411 (or BEBE for Spanish), women receive three free SMS text messages each week timed to their due date or baby’s date of birth. These messages focus on a variety of topics critical to maternal and child health, including birth defects prevention, immunization, nutrition, seasonal flu, mental health, oral health and safe sleep. Text4baby messages also connect women to prenatal and infant care services and other resources.
Text4baby founding partners include National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB), Voxiva, CTIA – The Wireless Foundation, grey healthcare group (a WPP company) and founding corporate sponsor Johnson & Johnson. Premier sponsors include WellPoint, Pfizer and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and wireless carriers are distributing free text messages. U.S. government partners include the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Defense Military Health System. Implementation partners include BabyCenter, LLC, Danya International, Syniverse Technologies, Keynote Systems and The George Washington University. MTV Networks is a media sponsor.
“Text4baby is the first free mobile health service to be taken to scale in the United States,” said U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra. “We know that mobile phones hold tremendous potential to inform and empower individuals,” said Chopra. “Text4baby represents an extraordinary opportunity to expand the way we use our phones, to demonstrate the potential of mobile health technology, and make a real difference for moms and babies across the country.”
The infant mortality rate in the United States is one of the highest in the industrialized world, and for the first time since the 1950s, that rate is on the rise. Each year in the United States, more than 500,000 babies are born prematurely and an estimated 28,000 children die before their first birthday—signifying a public health crisis. Prematurity is often cited as being leading cause of infant mortality. Key predictors of a child’s chances for survival are birth weight and gestational age.
“We believe the power of partnership and community can make an incredible difference in women’s and children’s lives,” said Judy Meehan, executive director of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. “Text4baby brings HMHB’s mission to life and with the help of our partners, we believe we can be a strong catalyst for change.”
“We believe programs like text4baby are critical to providing much-needed information and support to pregnant women and new moms, especially among underserved populations,” said Brian D. Perkins, corporate vice president of corporate affairs for Johnson & Johnson, text4baby’s founding sponsor. “We hope this program not only helps reduce infant mortality rates but also serves as an example of how the private and public sectors can work together to solve problems.”
Paul Meyer, chairman and president of Voxiva, the mobile health platform provider, said, “Text4baby demonstrates the tremendous reach of mobile health technology and the ability of mobile phones to inform and engage people to help them live healthier lives. These same tools can be applied to many of America’s big health care challenges.”
Steve Largent, president of The Wireless Foundation and president and CEO of CTIA-The Wireless Association said, “Wireless technology has the unique ability to deliver valuable, life-enhancing information anywhere, anytime. We’re pleased to be part of this innovative partnership which promotes the birth of healthy babies, particularly those in underserved populations.”
The text4baby wireless carriers are voluntarily providing the critical communications link of the initiative, distributing text messages to recipients at no charge. Participating carriers include: Alltel, Assurance Wireless, AT&T, Boost Mobile, Cellular South, Cellcom, Centennial Cellular, Cincinnati Bell, Metro PCS, N-Telos, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless and Virgin Mobile USA.
“Fifty percent of people with chronic health problems in the United States have Internet access, but 90 percent of Americans have mobile phones,” said Lynn O’Connor Vos, CEO of grey healthcare group. “That alone indicates the extraordinary impact mobile technology can have on health outcomes.”
Text4baby is proud to be working with many organizational partners, including the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene, Virginia Department of Health, American Academy of Pediatrics, March of Dimes, Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, American Public Health Association, National Association of County and City Health Officials, National Healthy Start Association, National WIC Association and Postpartum Support International.
For more information, please visit text4baby.org.
About the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition
The National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB) is the only coalition of its kind which acts as a catalyst for change by creating partnerships among community groups, nonprofit organizations, professional associations, businesses and government agencies. The Coalition promotes optimal health for mothers and babies, and works to strengthen families and build healthy communities.