LAFAYETTE — Lafayette General is the first medical facility in the state to partner with Text4Baby, a free texting service that provides health information to pregnant women and new moms, the hospital announced Tuesday.

Women who sign up for the service will receive three free text messages weekly, timed to their due date or their baby’s date of birth, the hospital news release said.

The hospital has joined with the Louisiana Office of Public Health Maternal and Child Health department to promote the program.

The program’s goal is improved health for mother and baby.

“Despite decades of public health outreach and education, infant mortality rates in Louisiana remain unacceptably high at nine to 10 deaths per 1,000 live births,” said Dr. Robert Maupin, medical director of the Office of Public Health’s Maternity Program.

While several factors can be attributed to the state’s high infant mortality such as “health-care access, poverty and negative health behaviors, clinical evidence indicates that increasing a mother’s knowledge about prenatal care can improve health and birth outcomes for mother and baby,” Maupin said.

National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition launched the service with Johnson & Johnson as a founding sponsor.

At Lafayette General, information about the program will be made available through the hospital’s website, social media, handouts and outreach to physicians’ offices.

Women may sign up for the service by texting: “BABY,” or “BEBE” for Spanish speakers, to 511411.

ON THE INTERNET: http://www.LafayetteGeneral.com, http://www.Text4Baby.org