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The Gift of Good Health on Mother’s Day

This Mother’s Day, new mothers and mothers-to-be can text “BABY” to 511411 to sign up for text4baby, a free, mobile health information service that offers useful tips timed to a woman’s due date or baby’s date of birth.

Pregnant women and new mothers deserve more than just flowers this Mother’s Day. They deserve the precious gift of good health for themselves and their babies. That’s why today I’d like to celebrate the benefits of text4baby, a free, mobile health information service that offers useful tips timed to a woman’s due date or baby’s date of birth.

The beauty of text4baby is its simplicity. Text BABY (or BEBE in Spanish) to 511411, and receive three free SMS messages every week on important issues like nutrition, oral health, and immunization schedules. Text4baby also connects women to public clinics and support services for prenatal and infant care in their area.

In the year since last Mother’s Day, text4baby has chalked up a number of exciting achievements that have improved the lives of the mothers it serves. The service has sent 12 million messages to more than 170,000 users with the support of over 500 outreach partners. And last August, text4baby was selected by Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius as one of three winners of the HHSInnovates award, which recognizes the top innovations in that Department.

The broad coalition of public and private partners that have made text4baby possible, which includes government, corporations, academic institutions, professional associations, tribal agencies, and non-profit organizations, has no intention of slowing down. The Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB)—the nonprofit organization that runs text4baby—announced with increased support from text4baby sponsor Johnson & Johnson an ambitious new goal to reach 1 million moms and moms-to-be by the end of 2012.

And with the announcement of a similar mobile health information service in Russia two months ago, along with the launch of the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action just last week, the positive impact on maternal and child health will be felt in places outside of the United States as well.

I applaud text4baby’s tremendous growth this Mother’s Day, and encourage you to spread the word by telling the new mothers and mothers-to-be in your life to text “BABY” to 511411 today.

Tom Kalil is Deputy Director for Policy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.