Text-4-Baby: Creating Access to Care

By Luisa Soaterna

As an HBCU alumna, a Latina, and mother to a 2-year-old, I have reaped the benefits of access to quality medical care, and a strong support system. The ease with which I’ve navigated the medical system and the positive outcomes that my family and I have had are not the typical experiences of many Black or Latina women. I recall tears shed by moms at the neonatal intensive care unit during my days as an interpreter and the cultural barriers that distanced them from the members of the medical team.

This past Minority Health Month we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Heckler Report. Since its release many initiatives have been put in place to bridge the gap and improve experiences for ethnic minorities, including immigrants. Over the years, data have shown that children born to immigrant mothers actually have better health outcomes than those born to US-born women. The challenge has always been how to connect these moms to the resources they need. It is especially difficult for women living in communities without large immigrant populations, where culturally competent resources are not readily available. Text4baby is a tool to bridge this information gap, connecting moms and moms-to-be to information and resources via their cell phones.

luisa fam

 I have reaped the benefits of access to quality medical care, and a strong support system.

Text4baby is the nation’s only free mobile information service designed to promote maternal and child health. Women who text BABY (or BEBE for Spanish) to 511411 receive three free text messages a week, timed to their due date or baby’s birth date, through pregnancy and up until baby’s first birthday. The messages address topics such as prenatal care, urgent alerts, developmental milestones, immunizations, nutrition, birth defect prevention, safe sleep, safety, and more.

Since Text4baby launched, over 49,500 individuals have signed up in Spanish.Among the Spanish-language participants, 44% live in zip codes where over 25% of families live in poverty, compared with 40% of the general US Hispanic population. A George Washington University-led randomized evaluation found that Text4baby mothers were nearly three times more likely to believe that they were prepared to be new mothers compared to those in the no exposure control group.

I encourage you to share Text4baby within your community, join the partnership, and show women how to sign-up by texting BABY or BEBE to 511411. My hope is that other women may benefit from this free service as I have, and feel more empowered to lead healthy lives for themselves and their families.


  1. Text4baby does not routinely collect race or ethnicity data, therefore, the results included in this overview apply only to the Text4baby participants who have signed-up for the service in Spanish

June is Men’s Health Month: Men’s Health Roundtable

Washington, D.C.–The 3rd Annual Men’s Health Roundtable (MHR) conference was held on June 23rd, bringing some of the nation’s health leaders together to address the current state of men’s health. Representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Men’s Health Network and several other organizations met at the American Public Health Association (APHA) headquarters to engage in discussion on current research and policy and to highlight best practices for improving preconception care and reproductive life planning among boys and men.

Following opening remarks, guest panelists examined keys to improving men’s health.

Dr. Stuart Moss of the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development began his presentation by advocating a shift in how we view preconception care. Dr. Moss challenged traditional preconception methods—that largely place the burden on the woman—and illustrated how the health of the male has a biological impact on offspring. He cited an epigenetic study in which overweight male mice (who were intentionally fed a high protein diet so they became fat) were bred with healthy female mice. Subsequent DNA tests showed that, even though they were born a healthy weight, the offspring were predisposed to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and showed impairments in insulin regulation.

Dr. Allen Herman, Co-founder, Advocates for Men’s Health stole the show with his presentation based on 100 years of United States infant mortality data. Dr. Herman explained that this data, as well as, data on men’s health and health disparities is so expansive that the challenge is not the collection of information but interpreting it. Using some of this data, he revealed that his research directly links infant mortality to 1. Wealth disparities 2. Social determinants 3. Epigenetics 4. Access to care.

The panel also addressed barriers to achieving equitable men’s health care. These barriers were identified as: nomenclature, provider limitations, location, quality of care and lack of data application. Dr. David Johnson, Public Health Adviser for HHS recommended that policy makers create policies that deliver clinical/evidenced based information on males and train providers to effectively communicate with males in areas of preconception health/care, sexual assessments, substance abuse, mental health and chronic diseases. And providers should determine: How do we ask the right questions to get the useful information/data we need.

Members of the panel lauded PPE as an effective tool to improve men’s health across the nation. PPE will aim to leverage peer-to-peer, young men-to-young boys mentorship to create peer role models for young men and boys. PPE is also working with the panel to increase male involvement in the program.

Follow the Men’s Health Roundtable on Twitter using the hashtage #MensHealthMatters.