About MotherToBaby California
MotherToBaby California specialists answer questions for California residents. Generous funds provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) also allow us to assist residents of Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and the US Territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.
MotherToBaby California is housed at the University of California San Diego’s Center for Better Beginnings, located in the Department of Pediatrics.
University of California San Diego
Department of Pediatrics
Center for Better Beginnings
9500 Gilman Drive, MC 0828
La Jolla, CA 92093
Meet Our Team
Christina D. Chambers, PhD, MPH, Program Director
Christina D. Chambers, PhD, MPH is the Program Director of MotherToBaby California. She is a world-renowned perinatal epidemiologist at the Center for Better Beginnings and a Professor of Pediatrics and Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California San Diego. Her interests are in the areas of birth defects and other pregnancy outcomes, with a special focus on exposures that can cause birth defects (known as “teratogens”). Dr. Chambers has a very active research program on (1) the prevention of alcohol-related birth defects and (2) the safety in pregnancy of several medications and vaccines.
Kenneth Lyons Jones, MD, Medical Director
Kenneth Lyons Jones, MD, is the Medical Director of MotherToBaby California. He is a pediatrician specializing in the area of genetics and dysmorphology (the study of birth defects). Dr. Jones is Chief of the Division of Dysmorphology and Teratology and Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California San Diego. He is well-known in the field of birth defects, and is considered the father of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) as he was one of two doctors at the University of Washington who first identified FAS in the United States in 1973. He has authored over 400 publications in scientific journals and is the author of Smith’s Recognizable Patterns of Human Malformation, the esteemed medical reference book on both environmental and genetically caused birth defects.
Kelly Kao, Program Manager
Kelly Kao is the Program Manager at MotherToBaby California. She has been with MotherToBaby California since 1993. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology at the University of California, San Diego with minors in Biology and Spanish Literature. She became interested in prenatal environmental exposures that cause birth defects and long-term developmental effects when she took a Sociology of Law course that examined the death penalty case of a man who was diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). She actively demonstrates her dedication to educating the community about prenatal environmental exposures through her outreach activities, lectures, and research projects.
Sonia Alvarado, Teratogen Information Specialist, Bilingual – Spanish/English
Sonia Alvarado is a bilingual (Spanish/English) information specialist with MotherToBaby California. Along with answering women’s and health professionals’ questions regarding exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding via phone, email, and live chat, she provides educational talks in the community regarding pregnancy health and supports the activities to promote MotherToBaby’s services. In addition, Sonia has authored several MotherToBaby Blogs and has translated content into Spanish. She has also served in leadership and member roles for several OTIS Committees, including the Education Committee, Abstract Committee and Marketing and Website Committees.
Robert Felix, Senior Teratogen Information Specialist
Robert Felix is a senior information specialist based at MotherToBaby California. He also serves as Stakeholder Liaison for the OTIS National Office, where he cultivates new partnerships with healthcare providers/administrators and a number of national programs for under-served populations. He attends and participates at national conferences such as the Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs (AMCHP), National Healthy Start, National WIC, Postpartum Support International, Primary Care Association and March of Dimes to strengthen OTIS’ community engagement. Robert has also served as President, Secretary, and Member-At-Large of OTIS’s Board of Directors.
Angela Messer, Teratogen Information Specialist
Angela Messer, MA, is an information specialist with MotherToBaby California. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Chapman University and her graduate degree from Kansas State University in academic advising/counseling. Angela has been with MotherToBaby since 2009, with experience in both research and counseling. She appreciates the opportunity to speak with pregnant and breastfeeding women and healthcare professionals regarding exposures and medications, and holds a special interest in stress and anxiety in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Kirstie Perrotta, Teratogen Information Specialist
Kirstie Perrotta, MPH, is an information specialist at MotherToBaby California, where she provides counseling by phone and chat. She received her Masters in Public Health (MPH) from the University of San Francisco, and has worked in the field of reproductive health for over 8 years. Kirstie currently serves as a member of the MotherToBaby Zika Task Force and also provides leadership around our COVID-19 response. Her interests include vaccines, infectious disease, and mental health during pregnancy.
See more on our social media for current activities and events.
Education & Training Opportunities
MotherToBaby California specialists are available to give educational talks to the general public and to employees of health service organizations, WIC clinics, or other programs on the topic of exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding or on MotherToBaby’s services and research studies.
We also provides opportunities for volunteers and internships for undergraduate and graduate students. These include anyone interested in working in pregnancy or a related health sciences field including those studying pharmacology, public health, social work, genetic counseling, and more.
To learn more about training or education opportunities, please contact Kelly Kao at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Connect with Our Local Partners
211 San Diego
211 San Diego’s mission is to serve as a nexus to bring the community (organizations) together to help people efficiently access appropriate services, and provide vital data and trend information for proactive community planning.
American Academy of Pediatrics California Chapter 3
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an international organization with headquarters in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. In the United States there are 10 geographical areas designated as districts, which represent one or more states. California’s Chapter 3 includes Imperial and San Diego counties.
California Black Infant Health Program
The Black Infant Health Program uses a group-based approach with complementary client-centered one-on-one case management to help women develop life skills, learn strategies for reducing stress, and build social support. BIH clients participate in weekly group sessions (10 prenatal and 10 postpartum) designed to help them access their own strengths and set health-promoting goals for themselves and their babies. The BIH Program is located in 15 local health jurisdictions where more than three quarters of African-American live births occur in California.
Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program
The Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program (CPSP) provides a wide range of culturally competent services to Medi-Cal pregnant women, from conception through 60 days postpartum. In addition to standard obstetric services, women receive enhanced services in the areas of nutrition, psychosocial and health education.
Live Well San Diego
Live Well San Diego involves partner organizations in all sectors – from government, to business, to schools, to faith-based and community organizations – through a shared purpose. Working together allows for planning and implementation of innovative and creative projects to bring the Live Well San Diego’s vision of a region that is Building Better Health, Living Safely and Thriving to life.
March of Dimes
The mission of the March of Dimes is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. The March of Dimes provides information and resources on pregnancy and infant health to pregnant women and perinatal health professionals. The March of Dimes supports research aimed at preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.
March of Dimes California Chamber Program Services Committee
The State Program Services Committee (SPSC) leads the development and implementation of the March of Dimes California Chapter’s strategic program plan for our mission activities. The SPSC also identifies perinatal needs and evidence-based interventions to improve the health outcomes for moms and babies in California. The SPSC maximizes the impact and visibility of the chapter in our communities, participates in the review and approval of March of Dimes community grants, and assists in monitoring and allocating the program budget.