In South Los Angeles, the number of fetal deaths, premature infants, low-birth-weight infants and infants who die during their first year of life is alarming. We respond to this crisis with a multi-pronged approach.

Our Vision The vision of the South LA Best Babies Collaborative (SLABBC) is for all babies in South Los Angeles to have a healthy start in life.

Pregnancy and Childbirth in South LA The SLABBC serves a number of South Los Angeles communities and cities, the majority located in Los Angeles County’s Service Planning Area 6 (SPA 6). Among the communities and cities we serve are Athens, Florence, Watts, Willowbrook, Compton and Lynwood. We also serve South Gate, Huntington Park and a few communities located in SPA 7. Read more about SPA 6 here>>

Poor Outcomes As compared to the infants in much of Los Angeles County, those in SPA 6 have experienced among the worst outcomes. In 2009 SPA 6 saw the highest rate of teen births, the highest rate of fetal deaths (deaths at 20 weeks’ gestation or more), the second highest rate of low-birth-weight babies and the second highest infant mortality rate (deaths occurring at less than 365 days of age). In 2007 SPA 6 also experienced the highest rate of preterm births.

Working Collaboratively The factors leading to poor pregnancy and poor birth outcomes are many, diverse and complex. We address these problems by collaborating with partner agencies and our WIC program staff, strengthening our connections to various community medical and social service providers, conducting continuous in-service training of project staff, and working intensively, one-on-one, with women who have been identified as at-risk.

Our Partners South LA Health Projects is the lead partner for the South LA Best Babies Collaborative. Our partners are INMED Partnerships for Children, South Central Family Health Center and SHIELDS for Families, Inc.

Since 2005, when we launched the SLABBC with funding from First 5 LA, our Collaborative has provided case management to more than 500 women. In addition, we have coordinated regular “Healthy Births” training workshops that upgrade the skills and knowledge of our collaborators, their staff, and other maternal and child health specialists in the community.

Our Participants We serve low-income African American and Latina women and teens at risk for poor birth outcomes. Among these participants are substance users and women with such chronic conditions as diabetes and hypertension. Many of our participants have previously given birth to a premature or low-birth-weight infant or have suffered a miscarriage, or a fetal or infant death.

A Primary Goal The importance of “interconception care” can not be overstated. A woman’s visits to her doctors during her pregnancy, soon after her baby’s birth and when she is afflicted with any chronic disease are vitally important. One of the SLABBC’s primary goals is that our participants will seek health care before, during, after and between their pregnancies.

Our Approach Through a combination of hands-on case management, health education, social support and referrals to community resources, our case managers encourage at-risk participants to make good choices.

When our participants make good decisions, they are more likely to deliver healthy infants and raise them to be healthy children. Their decisions can be as diverse as quitting smoking, following dietary recommendations, taking medications on schedule, seeing a primary care doctor or specialist when needed, spacing pregnancies at least two years apart and continuing their education.

Outcomes We have seen steady improvement in pregnancy outcomes, breastfeeding initiation, and use of postpartum medical services since the start of the project.

Good birth outcomes were documented for 83% of the participants who had given birth by the end of June 2013. Initiation of breastfeeding has increased over the duration of the project; approximately 85% of women who have just given birth are initiating breastfeeding after delivery. Nearly 90% of participants who delivered recently attended their postpartum checkup.

SLABBC data collection and evaluation is supported by the South LA Health Projects Planning and Evaluation Department.

The South LA Best Babies Collaborative is one of several Best Babies Collaboratives in Los Angeles County. Read about these collaboratives here>>