Messaging New Moms Around the World

Messaging New Moms Around the World

Text4baby Joins Global mHealth Initiative

by Kelly Brooks

IOM Recommendation 2More than 300,000 pregnant women and new moms are giving their babies a healthy start in life using text4baby, the first free health text-messaging service in the United States. In a new partnership, text4baby is now working with the Johns Hopkins University Global mHealth Initiative to reach out to mothers worldwide. Text4baby’s first international initiative launched in November 2011, reaching out to Russian moms. “I believe text4baby can benefit women worldwide,” says Betty Jordan, DNSc, RNC, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing assistant professor and text4baby program evaluator. “Partnering with the mHealth Initiative, which includes both domestic and international mHealth programs, is a great first step.”

Text4baby is a perfect example of the mHealth Initiative’s work to improve global health using mobile information and communications. Pregnant women and new moms who sign up (by texting BABY or BEBE to 511411) receive three text messages each week full of health tips and resources.

Betty Jordan (center) shows Global mHealth Initiative student leaders, Teresa Pfaff ’12 (left) and Samantha Schneider ’13 (right) how text4baby can reach more moms around the world using mobile devices.

In the two years since text4baby began, Jordan has been the program evaluator, working to measure text4baby’s impact. “We recognize that doing scientifically rigorous program evaluation and research is critical,” says Jordan, who is also the deputy director of the mHealth Initiative. The lessons learned from text4baby could help the mHealth Initiative develop more successful projects worldwide. “Whether international or domestic, we need evidence to move forward with implementing mHealth technologies.”

A recent evaluation of text4baby in San Diego, California, found that mothers who receive the text messages are more likely to take action—calling hotlines or talking with their doctor—than other mothers. And 96 percent of text4baby users would refer the service to a friend. Text4baby is so popular that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have partnered with text4baby to drive enrollment in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Medicaid, as well as text4baby.

Since February 2010, text4baby has reached out to women in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories such as the Virgin Islands, where Johns Hopkins nursing students conduct public health practicums each year. In February 2012, Jordan traveled to St. Croix where Eleanor Hirsh from the Island’s Family Connection program was promoting text4baby at Agrifest, an annual agriculture and food festival. With terrain that makes text messages easier to receive than phone calls, the Virgin Islands are fertile ground for text4baby, and today, more than 320 women there are enrolled.

Stay Up-To-Date

Get updates on the latest stories, from hot topics, to faculty research, alumni profiles, and more.

Ways to subscribe