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White House launches 'text4baby' campaign

February 4, 2010 |  8:48 am

The White House on Thursday unveiled a new "text4baby" campaign that will send text messages to help expectant mothers and mothers of infants.

Women can sign up for three weekly messages timed to the stage of their child's development, and get tips on subjects such as nutrition and immunization by texting the word "baby" or "bebe" to 511411.

The campaign is a collaboration among government agencies, healthcare providers and wireless carriers. Carriers are waiving all fees for receiving the texts. Voxiva is providing the mobile health platform.

AT&T, for example, has teamed with mommy blogger Heather Spohr to help promote text4baby. It also invited two of its own employees and expectant moms, Nicole Anderson and Laura Hernandez, to opt in to the text4baby tips and guest blog for AT&T’s mom blog, Calm, Cool, Connected.

The goal of the campaign is to improve the health of infants through their first birthdays and lower premature-birth and infant-mortality rates, the White House said in a news release. The U.S. has one of the highest infant-mortality rates in the industrialized world. More than 500,000 U.S. babies, or one in eight, are born prematurely each year. About 28,000 infants die before their first birthday.

The campaign has the potential to reach a lot of mothers. About 90% of U.S. residents have mobile phones, and texting is prevalent among women of childbearing age and minority populations that have higher infant-mortality rates, the White House said.

"Text4baby represents an extraordinary opportunity to expand the way we use our phones, to demonstrate the potential of mobile health technology," Aneesh Chopra, chief technology officers for the U.S. government, said in a statement.

-- Jessica Guynn

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