Background & Aim: Short message services (SMS) via mobile phone is the most widely adopted and inexpensive way for modern communication. It has being used in health promotion and disease prevention. Appropriate infant feeding practices have long-term health effects, including obesity prevention. However, published findings on improving early infant feeding to prevent childhood obesity are limited. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of an SMS intervention on child BMI at 12 and 24 months.
Method: A quasi-randomized experimental design was used. 582 expectant mothers (281 intervention; 301 control) were recruited in the 1st trimester in four Community Health Centers (CHCs), in Shanghai, China. Mothers in intervention group received SMS messages from the 3rd trimester to 12 months postpartum. Offspring length and weight at 12 and 24 months were drawn from CHC health records. The association between the SMS intervention and BMI at 12 and 24 months was assessed by multivariate liner regression.
Results: The intervention group had a significantly higher median duration of exclusively breastfeeding (EBF) at 30 weeks than the control group (11.4 weeks [95% CI, 10.3- 12.6] vs 8.9 weeks [95% CI, 7.8-9.9]); P<0.001). The average BMI at 12 months was 17.08 and 17.16 kg/m2 for the intervention and control groups, respectively, and 15.94 and 15.88 kg/m2 at 24 months, respectively. There was no statistically significant difference in BMI after controlling for maternal age, maternal education, household registration, housing arrangement, family income, baby’s gender, pre-pregnancy maternal BMI, father’s BMI, baseline awareness of WHO breastfeeding guidelines and childhood obesity.
Conclusion: A mobile phone SMS intervention could be effective in promoting EBF, but may not influence BMI at 12 and 24 months.