Concord, NH – Today the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announces that it will join 13 other State Health Departments and 25 National Associations as an outreach partner oftext4baby. Text4baby is a new free mobile information service providing pregnant women and new moms with the information they need to take care of their health and give their babies the best possible start in life.

Women who sign up for the service receive three free text messages each week timed to their due date or baby’s date of birth. Messages focus on a variety of topics critical to maternal and child health, including breastfeeding, immunization, nutrition, mental health, smoking, oral health and safe sleep. Text4baby messages also connect women to prenatal and infant care services. Messages are specifically targeted to pregnant and new moms ages 18-25, but older women and dads are welcome to subscribe. You can sign up by texting BABY (or BEBE to receive messages in Spanish) to 511411.

Organizers hope the effort can curb premature births, which can be caused by poor nutrition, excessive stress, smoking, and drinking alcohol. About 500,000 babies are born prematurely in the U.S. each year, and 28,000 infants die before their first birthday. In New Hampshire, about 1,500 babies are born prematurely each year. In 2007, 77 New Hampshire infants died before their first birthday.

"We believe programs like text4baby will provide critical information for pregnant women and new moms ages 18-25," said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS. "We are pleased to be a part of this public health partnership to promote healthy pregnancies and healthy babies for New Hampshire families."

The Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Section and the WIC Nutrition Program are leading the text4baby campaign in New Hampshire, along with local community agencies. WIC nutrition programs, community health centers, and MCH home visiting programs across the state will be promoting text4baby at their clinics.

Text4baby is an educational program of the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition (HMHB). It is made possible through a partnership with the White House Office on Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Voxiva, CTIA-The Wireless Foundation, the Grey Healthcare Group, and founding corporate sponsor Johnson & Johnson. Wireless carriers are distributing the text messages at no cost to women, regardless of their individual wireless phone plan.

This project is one of the topics DHHS is focusing on this week in recognition of National Public Health Week. For more information about National Public Health Week go to www.nphw.org. Private healthcare professionals and insurance providers are invited to collaborate with DHHS to encourage pregnant and new moms to sign up for text4baby.

To join the campaign in New Hampshire, send an email to text4baby@dhhs.state.nh.us. For more information about the program visit www.text4baby.org.