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Examining the effectiveness of text4baby service

Text4baby, a free mobile service providing pregnant women and new mothers with information about caring for their babies, appears to be an effective method of promoting maternal and child health, according to a recent survey of women who use the service in San Diego.

The survey, which involved 160 women, was conducted by researchers at UC San Diego Health System's Department of Reproductive Medicine and the National Latino Research Center at Cal State San Marcos University. Medical News Today reports:

  • Women reported high satisfaction with text4baby, with Spanish-speaking women reporting even higher satisfaction scores than English-speaking women.
  • 63.1 percent of women reported that text4baby helped them remember an appointment or immunization that they or their child needed.
  • 75.4 percent reported that text4baby messages informed them of medical warning signs they did not know.
  • 71.3 percent reported talking to their doctor about a topic that they read on a text4baby message.

Text4baby hopes to enroll one million participants by the end of 2012 and is well on its way with 250,000 current subscribers. The popularity and potential promise of text4baby is indicative of a burgeoning group of mobile health tools aimed at promoting healthy behaviors including helping smokers kick their nicotine habit and supporting adolescents with diabetes in managing their condition.

Similar technologies are also being developed at Stanford. Abby King, PhD, at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, and colleagues are currently testing three smartphone applications, which use the accelerometer in the phone and a custom program to monitor how much a smartphone wearer walks or runs during the day, to determine how such tools can motivate midlife and older adults to improve daily health habits.

Previously: Eat a carrot and exercise - or your iBird dies, Can daily texts help smokers kick their nicotine addiction? and Monitoring patient wellness from a distance

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