Digital technology is transforming the world, helping to overthrow dictators in the Middle East and embracing gay rights at home. But if last week’s budget cuts are a sign of what’s to come, we may also need social media to save women’s health.
I got to thinking about this idea a couple of weeks ago, when I read an article in the New York Times by David Bornstein about text4baby, a service that sends free text messages to women who are pregnant or whose babies are less than a year old, providing them with information and week-by-week reminders to improve their health and the health of their babies. The program has been extraordinarily popular, boasting about 135,000 users to date with a goal of reaching one million women by the end of 2012.
What makes text4baby particularly appealing is that it targets precisely those women who are most in need of advice on healthy behaviors during pregnancy and post-childbirth, but least likely to obtain it. Low-income, minority women are far more likely than other women to delay prenatal care until the third trimester of their pregnancies, or go without it altogether. And that’s because while this information is widely available, these women typically lack internet access, a formal education and/or health insurance.
But they do have cell phones. According to the Times article, 80 percent of Medicaid patients send and receive text messages regularly and 61% of text4baby users live in zip codes where the median income is less than $50,000. For these women, getting a quick, friendly 160-character text message providing them with 1-800 numbers on topics ranging from how to quit smoking to the benefits of breastfeeding to how and when to obtain immunizations for new-borns has the potential to be extraordinarily effective in reducing infant mortality (which is suprisingly high in the U.S.).
Read the rest of this article at www.PoliticsDaily.com…
And speaking of social media, here’s a post I did on Friday about Facebook’s new, more inclusive gay-friendly status updates.
Image: Texting by Ron Wiecki via flickr under a Creative Commons license