News and Events

ACR 105 passes, officially designating an annual Perinatal Awareness Month observance in May

May 3, 2010: Network Policy Director, Tony Gorham and other LA County Perinatal Mental Health Task Force members joined Assemblymember Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara) at a Capitol press conference in Sacramento for the official launch of the first annual Perinatal Depression Awareness month in Caliornia.

Read Assemblymember Nava's press release

Video: See video of Assemblymember Nava's press conference

Audio: Kimberly Wong, Founder and Chair of the L.A. County Perinatal Mental Health Task Force, says perinatal depression can affect any woman.(:18)

May 4, 2010: While in Sacramento, The Network also participated in a Roundtable discussion on Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder, hosted by the California Legislative Women's Caucus

May 7, 2010: The L.A. County Board of Supervisors has also declared May Perinatal Depression Awareness Month. Read the release from the L.A. County Department of Health.

Read the Network's press release on ACR 105

Read the text of ACR 105


Dr. Jonathan Fielding appointed to federal healthcare panel

Obama appoints L.A. County Public Health Director, Jonathan Fielding to panel on preventive care

Fielding Reyes

Dr. Fielding presenting an award of recognition to
former LA Best Babies Network executive director,
Dr. Carolina Reyes in 2009.

Teen Births Continue to Decline in California

Teen births declined in California, in 2009, according to the California Department of Public Health, although rates remain higher than in many other developed nations. California’s teen birth rate declined from 35.2 births for every 1,000 teens in 2008 to 32.1 in 2009. In contrast, when teen births reached its peak in California in 1991, the teen birth rate was 70.9, more than twice as high as the rate in 2009. 

California Hospitals Need to Become More Baby-Friendly

California WIC and UC Davis’s report: One Hospital at a Time: Overcoming Barriers to Breastfeeding finds that while there are more baby-friendly hospitals than ever in California, too many are still falling short. In 2009, 22 hospitals had more than 75% of mothers supplementing with formula at the time of discharge. Many of these hospitals serve the poorest families. At Pacific Alliance Medical Center in L.A. County, 99% of mothers used formula at discharge. L.A. County ranked 43rd  out of 46 in California in breastfeeding rates. One success story is California Hospital Medical Center, which, after become Baby-Friendly no longer appears on the list of hospitals with the highest supplementation rates

LA Best Babies Network and First 5 LA Address Needs of Pregnant Women

March 1, 2011—This news article from First 5 LA describes the work of LA Best Babies Network and the Best Babies Collaboratives.

June 7, 2012 New project will focus on improving perinatal outcomes in Centinela Valley

LA Best Babies Network will receive $500,000 over 2 years from California Community Foundation’s Centinela Valley Medical Fund to focus on improving the health outcomes of mothers and infants in the Centinela Valley. The Centinela Valley includes areas near the LAX airport, the cities of Hawthorne, Lawndale and Lennox and some parts of Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach.

There are wide regional and ethnic disparities in the health and wellbeing of LA County residents. Those living in the Centinela Valley have disproportionately worse quality of life and health status than LA County overall. The community is young (median age of 23 years) and poorer than the rest of LA County (median household income is $30,882). The rate of obesity in South Los Angeles is 30% for adults and 29% for children, which is disproportionately higher than in any other part of LA County. South LA also has the highest diabetes levels in the county, at 11.7%, compared with 8.1% overall and even more startling; women in South LA have the highest diabetes mortality rates compared to any other group in LA County. The pregnancy and birth outcome of women and infants in the Centinela Valley is reflective of their disproportionate poor health statuses. SPA 6, which makes up the majority of the Centinela Valley, has the highest rate of preterm births and low and very low birth weight babies. The infant mortality rate is 6.6 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. This is well above the LA County average of 4.9-5.4 infant deaths per 1,000. SPA 6 also has the lowest proportion of women with first trimester prenatal care, the highest teen birth rate (82% higher than the County rate) and consequently, experiences significantly worse birth outcomes than the County average.

We will use our Education and Training Framework to promote improvement in interagency communication and collaboration, clinical care quality improvement, perinatal policy development, data tracking and evaluating success for key perinatal outcomes. We plan to continue providing training and technical support to members of LA Best Babies Network’s South Los Angeles Best Babies Collaborative, Eisner Pediatric and Family Medical Center and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center while expanding our reach to other safety net clinics, hospitals and public health departments and community based organizations serving pregnant and inter-conception women in  the Centinela Valley.  

February 28, 2012 - Union Pacific Railroad Award Promotes Prenatal Health Literacy

Union Pacific Railroad has awarded LA Best Babies Network with a $5,000 grant that will support the dissemination of 251 Baby Basics books.  

 Health literacy is a more powerful predictor of an individual’s health and wellness than race or education and is a very real challenge for many pregnant women in Los Angeles County. People with low health literacy are more likely to report poor health, have an incomplete understanding of their health problems and treatment and may be at greater risk of hospitalization. For an expecting woman, low health literacy can translate into high risk pregnancies and deliveries and unhealthy babies. The What To Expect Foundation recognized the need to develop prenatal educational materials for low income low literacy populations as a strategy to reduce infant mortality and empower prenatal patients with literacy skills.

Baby Basics was developed in response to this need The Baby Basics curriculum consists of a) proven health literacy education methods and tools to deliver prenatal education and build literacy skills; b) education and training for providers and staff to increase their ability to recognize low health literacy, apply national recommendations for standard precautions and intervene in culturally sensitive ways; and c) tools and training that will enhance patient-provider communication.

The primary tool for Baby Basics is an innovative literacy tool written at a 3rd to 5th grade level titled Baby Basics, Your Month by Month Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy. It is the first prenatal guide that addresses the social, cultural, economic and linguistic interests and skills of families living at or below the poverty level.[1] The Baby Basics book is colorful evidence based, comprehensive guide to pregnancy filled with culturally diverse information, stories, illustrations and photographs. Baby Basics has been reviewed by a team of obstetricians and midwives, and endorsed by the March of Dimes as well as hundreds of hospitals, home visiting programs and departments of health.  It covers every state Medicaid and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists mandated prenatal topic with text and illustrations. The book is available in English, Spanish and Chinese and has been tested for cultural competency. Along with the Baby Basics book, women receive a Baby Basics planner. The planner is a portable medical record that encourages women to communicate with their provider by writing their questions down in the designated spaces.  At the end of their exam, the healthcare provider writes answers to their questions and other relevant information for the patient to review after the visit.

According to the What To Expect Foundation (WTEF), the Baby Basics program is currently adopted by over 200 clinical practices. LA Best Babies Network contracted with WTEF in February 2009 and since then, has provided the Baby Basics training to over 40 organizations providing case management and home visitation services under the Healthy Births Initiative.

January 18, 2012 – First 5 LA Supports the Expansion of Home Visiting Programs

A $250,000 award from First 5 LA’s Policy and Advocacy Fund will enable LA Best Babies Network to form the Home Visitation Expansion and Policy Consortium over the next two and a half years. The Consortium will consist of community stakeholders working to improve and sustain access to quality, evidence-based, voluntary home visitation programs that promote health, early infant development and optimize family strengths for expectant women and new parents in LA County. We will advance policies that expand public and private health insurance reimbursement for home visitation services and increase flexibility in public funding streams to support a range of evidence-based and innovative home visitation program models.

Home visiting programs offer a variety of family-focused services to expectant parents and families with new babies and young children. Home visiting has been shown to be an effective method of supporting families, especially as part of a coordinated system of services. They address issues such as maternal and child health, positive parenting practices, safe home environments, and access to services. The well-documented benefits of home visitation include improved pregnancy outcomes for mother and baby, decreased rates of child abuse and neglect, improved intellectual development, especially for low birth weight babies and those who have failed to thrive, reduced childhood accidents and hazards in the home, and fewer emergency room visits, increased breastfeeding rates, improved parenting skills and home environment, stronger parent-child bonding and decreases in behavioral problems, including sleep problems.[2] However, there is a scarcity of home visitation programs to serve the new and expectant parents of these babies, and the few existing programs tend to be disconnected from each other, overlap in services and are underfunded.

LA Best Babies Network will collaborate with the LA County Department of Public Health, Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health Programs’ Los Angeles County Home Visitation Advisory Committee, Maternal and Child Health Access, Atlas Family Foundation, GPS Capital Partners, LLC and Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce to implement this project.

July 6, 2011 LA Best Babies Network will conduct feasibility study on CenteringPregnancy®

California Community Foundation has awarded a $25,000 grant to the LA Best Babies Network that will enable us to perform a feasibility and landscape analysis of CenteringPregnancy®.

CenteringPregnancy® is an evidence-based model for providing group prenatal care that provides the essentials of traditional prenatal care and builds patient empowerment skills, reduces the alienating features of the medical environment and provides social support to participants.   Women who receive care through CenteringPregnancy® are noted to have increased pregnancy knowledge, more likely to have optimal number of prenatal visits, reduced emergency room visits, and significantly less preterm births.   While the benefits noted for women and infants who receive CenteringPregnancy® care are compelling, there is considerable professional and organizational transitional change required to implement the model.  

The Network will convene a CenteringPregnancy® Taskforce consisting of members from the Southside Coalition, the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County, and other local advocates for quality perinatal care to conduct a feasibility study and develop recommendations for spreading CenteringPregnancy® throughout Los Angeles County. Our goal will be to analyze the viability of establishing CenteringPregnancy® practices in Los Angeles County community clinics and establish a set of recommendations for spreading CenteringPregnancy®.

June 30, 2011 California Community Foundation supports the Los Angeles Healthy Weight Collaborative

Together, community engagement and collaboration are powerful strategies for bringing about sustainable change in the health of communities and individuals.[i] The Network will bring leaders together from public health, schools, healthcare, community organizations, and community to form the Los Angeles Healthy Weight Collaborative. Collaborative members will learn about their community assets, identify gaps and jointly establish program links, referral mechanisms and shared measures of success to curb the obesity epidemic in LA and improve the health and wellbeing of our residents.

Strategies to address the obesity epidemic are currently being developed and applied within various sectors but with little communication or coordination.  For example, Project RENEW and the Brotherhood Crusade both provide safe and supportive places for community members to access physical activities in vulnerable communities. Medical providers currently assess patients and set treatment plans with patients to reduce obesity; yet face challenges with having or they are unaware of resources within the community where patients can safely exercise or obtain healthy foods, or additional nutrition education.  LA Regional Network for Healthy California provides trainings for teachers to integrate nutrition information into their curriculum but teachers express challenges with not having healthcare resources for overweight or obese students. To maximize impact and utilize resources efficiently, resources need to be complementary and cohesive. Establishing inter-sector linkages are vital to this effort. Our goal is to facilitate a community-based and multi-sector team to prevent and treat overweight and obesity at individual and population levels.