Text4baby successfully jumpstarts mother-doctor conversations

Free pregnancy messaging program Text4baby is proving to be highly effective, according to the latest research from University of California, San Diego and California State University in San Marcos.

Nearly 75 percent of moms-to-be who participated in the small study said they were alerted to medical warning signs in their pregnancies that they wouldn't have known otherwise. More than 70 percent said they used the text messages in discussing their pregnancies with their doctors. And 63 percent said the messages helped them to remember appointments and get immunizations that they or their babies needed, according to a UCSD statement.

"Not only are women getting information they did not know, but the information is starting conversations between the parent and healthcare provider," Stuart Cohen, vice chair for the California district of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said in a statement. "A better informed parent provides the best chance for a healthy baby."

One interesting note: Bilingual texting may be a lynchpin for this type of text service. Spanish-speaking women were even more satisfied the service than English-speaking participants.

For the study, funded by the Alliance Healthcare Foundation, researchers contacted 160 women--38 in person, and 122 by phone. And regulators with the Department of Health & Human Servies are taking notice, as the agency now has a number of efforts underway to evaluate the efficacy of the program on a national level, according to Hilary Chen, senior advisor to the Deputy Director for Policy for the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

"These survey results from San Diego County are encouraging news for those who seek to change health knowledge and behaviors via mobile technology," Chen said in a blog post.

To learn more:
- read the UCSD press release
- check out a blog from OSTP's Hilary Chen
- here's a statement from text4baby officials