When my son Alex was small, his baby sitter told us of a horrible personal tragedy that befell her young niece. This seemingly healthy young woman died in childbirth. As the details of the tragedy came to light it became apparent to me – and the family -- that with proper prenatal care, the outcome may have been different.
Earlier today, the White House announced the launch of a new public health initiative, text4baby – the US’s first-ever free mobile health service that provides timely and expert health information through SMS text messages for pregnant women and new moms. Simply by texting “BABY” to 511411 (or “BEBE” for Spanish language services) women can receive three free SMS text messages each week timed to their due date or to the baby’s date of birth that provide a wealth of information about the health of both mother and baby through the baby’s first year.
According to a release issued by the White House the infant mortality rate in the US is one of the highest in the industrialized world – each year, about 500,000 babies are born prematurely and an estimated 28,000 children die before their first birthday. This new text service is one effort to help address this situation.
Johnson & Johnson is one of the founding sponsors of this initiative, and there is a fascinating story showing how this service can benefit a first-time mother on our corporate website. In addition, BabyCenter, one of our operating companies and a development partner in creating the text4baby content in English and Spanish, has some useful information and great tips for new and expectant moms on its site.
I’m a great believer in the way in which access to useful information can help improve health outcomes. Text4baby hopefully will help underserved moms and expectant moms gain access to knowledge that can improve address the issues of mother and baby health in the US.
UPDATE: Margaret has an interesting history of Johnson & Johnson's role in providing information for moms and expectant moms over at Kilmer House.