The free health messaging service text4baby celebrates its two-year anniversary this month and is on the cusp of reaching a new milestone: 300,000 subscribers.
To date, more than 293,000 pregnant women and new mothers are receiving free, personalized text messages with information on their pregnancy or their infant's health. The service is adding new subscribers at a rate of between 500 to 600 a day, marketing manager Emilia Guasconi said.
While anyone can sign up for the messages, Guasconi said that texts are an especially effective way to reach low-income groups.
"The underserved population is the highest utilizer of text messages, so it's really a great and efficient way to reach that audience," she said.
The service is made possible by a network of wireless carriers and other businesses, nonprofit groups and government organizations.
Here's how it works: You can register for the service online, here, or sign up with your mobile phone by texting the word BABY (or BEBE for Spanish texts) to the number 511411. You'll be asked for your baby's due date or birthday. After registering, you'll begin receiving free messages with tips for pregnancy or caring for your newborn timed to your particular stage of pregnancy or your baby's age.
A study of more than 100 text4baby subscribers released by UC San Diego last year found that three out of four said the service notified them of medical warning signs that they weren't aware of and that 64 percent said text4baby helped them remember an appointment or immunization.
The service has set a goal to reach 1 million subscribers by the end of 2012.