US to provide free health tips to new moms on mobiles
Washington: Pregnant women and new mothers in the US will be able to get health information delivered regularly to their mobile phones by free text messages under an innovative public service programme.Launched Thursday by President Barack Obama`s Indian American Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra at a health technology conference here, the new service aims to use the mobile phone, one of the most widely used technologies in America, to promote maternal and child health.
Called text4baby, the service has been launched by a coalition of mobile phone service providers, health professionals, and federal, state, and local agencies.
It provides timely health information to women from early pregnancy through their babies` first year. Information provided to moms through text4baby will help them take care of their health and give their babies the best possible start in life, officials said.
"Text4baby is the first free mobile health service to be taken to scale in the United States," said Chopra, who also serves as Associate Director for Technology within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. "We know that mobile phones hold tremendous potential to inform and empower individuals," he said.
"Text4baby represents an extraordinary opportunity to expand the way we use our phones, to demonstrate the potential of mobile health technology, and make a real difference for moms and babies across the country."
Currently in the United States more than 500,000 babies, 1 in every 8, are born prematurely and an estimated 28,000 children die before their first birthday, a rate among the highest in the industrialised world. Premature babies can face lifelong health and intellectual development problems.
Medical expenses for babies born prematurely average about ten times those for babies born after a full-term pregnancy. All told, premature births cost the US tens of billions of dollars, at least $26.2 billion in 2005, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Ninety percent of Americans have a mobile phone and texting is especially prevalent among women of childbearing age and minority populations, who face higher infant mortality rates.