Short Message Service (SMS) for Optimal Nutrition


Infant feeding practices can have long-term effects on children and their adulthood health and wellbeing. Among many benefits, children who are breastfed have lower levels of obesity than those who were formula fed.

Advances in communication technologies have opened new possibilities for innovative health service delivery and public health interventions. mHealth is using mobile phone devises to improve adherence to health advice, increase access to health information, and to promote healthy behavior. One of the fastest growing applications of mHealth is mobile short message service (SMS), whereby health promotion and relevant health information messages are sent directly to targeted recipients.

We conducted a pilot study in Shanghai, aimed to develop and implement a community-based health promotion intervention to provide staged advice and support for breastfeeding (BF) and infant feeding (IF) through SMS to expecting and new mothers to test the feasibility and acceptability.

The results are very encouraging; demonstrated by a high retention rate and improved feeding practices: increased duration of exclusive breastfeeding for children younger than six months and decreased introducing complementary feeding to infants before four months of age. Using text message to promote breastfeeding is well accepted and feasible in Shanghai.

This could be a model for culturally-acceptable healthy infant feeding and childhood obesity prevention in other countries undergoing rapid socio-economic and nutrition transitions like China.