Advice through texting aims to reduce preterm births

Aiming to cut down on the high number of premature births across the nation, a new program will offer words of advice for pregnant women in a place that will be hard to miss: on their cellphones.

The free text messages will be sent every week and will include information about such things as seeing the doctor, avoiding alcohol and cigarettes, and eating properly. Although it's just rolling out, the program — called text4baby — already has more than 18,000 women signed up for what's expected to be the largest nationwide health initiative using mobile phones.

Lead sponsors at the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition say they hope to improve the statistics: A half-million babies are born prematurely every year in the United States, many of whom then suffer from lifelong maladies. About 28,000 die before their first birthday.

"We're trying to address the problem," said Elizabeth Jordan, a board member of Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies and a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. "We have over 300 messages we send based on the mothers' weeks pregnant or the baby's age."


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