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Wellness Stories

Summer 2012


Conference panel inspires San Diego’s text4baby program

By Frank Sotomayor

Cal Wellness’ 2009 Conference on Border Health provided the inspiration for the development of a San Diego version of text4baby, a service that provides free health advice for pregnant women and new mothers via text messages.

At the conference, panelist Paul Meyer, chairman and president of Voxiva, an international corporation that delivers interactive mobile health services, described how his company was developing a project for the United States that would send health advice to expectant mothers via cell phones. That panel inspired a group of women to convene, said Anna Hoff, who is with the National Latino Research Center at Cal State San Marcos and is the text4baby coordinator for San Diego.

“Perinatal and infant health stakeholders attended the first meeting and the text4baby SD coalition was born,” Hoff said. “It has been a very serendipitous process.”

The coalition received funding to develop a system that would provide information about local resources for San Diego County’s users. The San Diego Medical Society Foundation served as the program’s fiscal agent.

When the White House announced the system’s launch nationwide in 2010, San Diego was the first West Coast region to have a customized system.

To enroll, an expectant or new mother in the United States sends a text to 511411 with the word “baby” — or “bebe” if Spanish is preferred.  An expectant mother enters her due date to receive perinatal health information, and a new mother texts her infant’s birth date to get advice on her baby’s first year of development.

Enrollees receive three text messages a week with information tailored to their due dates or their children’s birth dates. About 314,000 are enrolled nationwide, including 3,400 in San Diego.

“Our findings indicate that text4baby is increasing users’ health knowledge, facilitating interaction with health care providers, improving their adherence to appointments and immunizations, and improving their access to health resources,” stated an initial evaluation carried out in San Diego by the National Latino Research Center and UC San Diego.

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