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Free texts help new mothers
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Sign up for text4baby
Moms and moms-to-be can receive free educational texts by texting BABY — or BEBE for the Spanish version — to 511411. To end the service, text STOP to the same number. If the texting service is started during pregnancy, it will automatically continue through the baby’s first year of life.

It may still take the proverbial village to raise a child, but in 2010, said community has become more tech savvy.

To keep up with the changing times, the Georgia Department of Community Health has partnered with Text4baby, a free information service that texts pertinent health tips to new moms and moms-to-be.

"Mobile health services around the world have demonstrated the ability to help change patient behavior and improve health outcomes," said Brian Castruccil, director of the state department’s maternal and child health program. "We believe that this program can have a significant impact on maternal and child health throughout Georgia."

The program is provided through the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition.

The goal of the text message program is to reduce the number of infant mortality and premature birth cases.

According to the March of Dimes, a nonprofit organization with similar goals, there are about 403 pre-term births every week in Georgia. A full-term pregnancy is one that last for 40 weeks; if babies are born prior to 39 weeks of gestation, they are at greater risk for long-term health issues and partially developed organs.

The Text4baby messages cover "a variety of topics critical to maternal and child health," state health officials say. Some of the issues include birth defect prevention, safe sleep and immunization.

Text4baby sends messages to women from pregnancy through the baby’s first year of life. The messages are tailored to be relevant to the mother’s stage in pregnancy or age of the child. The information was developed by the coalition, with help from the Centers for Disease Control, and was reviewed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development.

After the first week, mothers that sign up for the service will receive three text messages each week. The messages are free for recipients, even if they don’t have a text messaging plan. Also, the messages won’t detract from a recipients’ monthly texting limit, if they do have a texting plan.

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