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Posted: 7/21/2010

New and expecting mothers in Baltimore City have a new resource to help them make the transition to motherhood. On June 28, 13 "youth mentors" were trained by Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing (JHUSON) assistant professor Elizabeth "Betty" Jordan, DNSc, RNC and instructor Ellen Ray, CNM, RN in the Text4Baby program as part of the B'more for Healthy Babies initiative.

Text4Baby, a free messaging service of 51-character text messages, developed in collaboration with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, offers tips and advice to new and expecting mothers three times a week on everything from breastfeeding to immunizations. "Because of the number of young women of childbearing age that we want to reach, text messages make sense to really target this audience," says Jordan, who is also a board member for the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB). .

Text4Baby is designed to promote maternal and child health and is an educational program of the HMHB. Since it began in January 2010, more than 50,000 women in 41 states have registered for Text4Baby. The Safe Sleep for Babies campaign is also an important educational program of the B'more for Healthy Babies initiative and focuses on educating parents and caregivers on the dangers of infant deaths while sleeping, and how these deaths can be prevented.

"Immediately reducing the number of infants dying from preventable deaths in Baltimore is a critical goal," said Rafael Lopez, President and Chief Executive of the Baltimore Family League. "But we're trying to build community awareness of the issue and, ultimately, strengthen policies and public systems that will help educate families and protect infants for years to come."

Youth mentors, all from the Baltimore City Public School system, will canvas neighborhoods hang posters, answer questions, and distribute fliers about the Text4Baby and Safe Sleep programs.

The initiative, a partnership involving the Baltimore City Health Department, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield and the Family League of Baltimore City, Inc., seeks to build widespread involvement in preventing infant deaths through education, community outreach, and a media campaign. CareFirst has committed $3 million to support the three-year initiative.