The federal government has gotten together with a number of private companies and foundations to launch Text4Baby, a free mobile service that will deliver health tips to pregnant women and new mothers.
Text baby to 511411 (bebe and you get it in Spanish) for weekly alerts timed to your due date on such topics as preventing birth defects, nutrition and oral health. The idea was first floated in October on The Broadband Breakfast Club.
Corporate sponsors include a "who's who" of interested parties, including the cellular industry, Voxiva, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, WellPoint, CareFirst BlueCross and Blue Shield.
It's also bipartisan. Former Republican Congressman Steve Largent, who now heads the cellular industry's trade group, issued a supportive statement.
"Expectant moms, the White House is calling" was the headline in Media Health Leaders, but in fact White House CTO Aneesh Chopra went to some pains to explain that this is a private initiative he merely coordinated.
This didn't stop the skeptics, cynics, and critics from jumping in.
"Good old Big Brother is stepping in and educating the nation's uninformed mothers through their cell phones," wrote The Examiner.
Blogger Gain Muscle Lose Fat called the program a "corporate scam":
There should be no sane family that would want such an invasion of privacy by such scum and villainy this side of reality. If ever there were a nail in a coffin of evidence that the White House is not speaking for your best interest, this should be it.
The blogger then went into a rant about the discredited link between vaccines and autism.
It's true. Anyone who gives away services to people is going to be pushing their own agenda.
But those agendas are not necessarily dark. There are valuable connections being offered here to help with such things as post-partum depression, and there are many women without broadband service who need help and vetted advice like this.
Is there really such a big difference between Text4Baby and the booklets companies like Johnson & Johnson handed out to new moms over a century ago?
What Chopra has done is organize all the major groups, like J&J, focused on the health problems of pregnancy and newborns, then convinced them to cooperate on a free service that will help people.
"The real scary thing is that we're an industrialized nation and we're not doing very well on infant mortality, and we know prematurity is a big part of that," said Judy Meehan, who heads the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Baby Coalition, one of the sponsors.
If Big Brother can reduce infant mortality who will object?