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Text4baby Provides Instant Info4mommy

February 17, 2010

By Catherine MacDonald
Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Lis Langsdorf had one son 10 years ago and another about a year ago. During the decade in between, she saw an immense difference in the information available to expectant and new mothers.

“I wasn’t online when my first son was born, so all I had was ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’ and a few other books,” said Langsdorf, a stay-at-home mom in Alexandria.

“This time, I had so much more information at my disposal … A lot has changed in the last 10 years, from CPR to information on SIDS to whether or not to use baby powder.”

New and expectant mothers now have another particularly convenient information source: text4baby, a free text-messaging service.

On Thursday, the Virginia Department of Health announced its participation in text4baby, which provides timely health information to pregnant women and new mothers during pregnancy and through a baby’s first year. Virginia was the only state to pilot the program, the department said.

Women can sign up for the service by texting BABY to 511411, or BEBE for Spanish. Women also can register at Subscribers receive three free text messages a week timed to their due date or their baby’s date of birth.



The messages address such topics as birth defects prevention, immunization, nutrition, seasonal flu vaccination, mental health and safe sleep, VDH officials said. The text4baby messages also connect women to prenatal and infant care resources.

The text4baby service is sponsored by the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, which is based in Alexandria. The project is supported by a public-private partnership that includes federal agencies and telecommunication, health-care and pharmaceutical companies.

Arlene Remick, director of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition, said the VDH has developed plans to implement and promote text4baby.

The department “has been really a trailblazer for this initiative,” Remick said. “They’re a model for how a state department of health can become involved in text4baby.”

Remick said Virginia Health Commissioner Karen Remley has played an important role in the promotion and implementation of the service. Remley launched the initiative Thursday in Virginia with Health and Human Services Secretary Bill Hazel.

“Dr. Remley has been really supportive of this initiative and being a part of text4baby,” Remick said.

Langsdorf said the more ways mothers can get information, the better.

“Moms need to have things at the ready,” Langsdorf said. “That’s why so many are utilizing cell phone apps and services already.”

Prenatal Care: How Does Virginia Stack Up?

Virginia’s infant mortality rate is steadily improving. In 2005, the commonwealth had the 16th highest rate in the nation; in 2006, it had the 22nd highest rate, with 7.5 deaths per 1,000 live births.

The commonwealth’s 2008 infant mortality rate was 6.7 per 1,000 live births.

Northern Virginia had the state’s lowest rate of infant deaths at 4.6 per 1,000 live births.

The Southside region had the highest rate at 10.1 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Virginia ranked 13th of the 50 states in the adequacy of prenatal care in 2006, with 74.2 percent of pregnant women receiving care in the first trimester.

Sources: Virginia Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention