A Better Beginning for Every Baby

Through the Prevention of Birth Defects

Center for Better Beginnings - Prevent Birth DefectsThe Center for Better Beginnings at UC San Diego is advancing the health of moms and babies. Located in the Department of Pediatrics, also known as the Division of Environmental Science and Health, we bring together multiple maternal and infant health programs that focus on the identification, prevention, and treatment of birth defects. In order to give every baby the healthiest life possible, you have to start at the beginning.

Birth defects, or congenital anomalies, are structural or functional abnormalities caused by problems during the baby’s development inside the womb. There are two causes for birth defects: genetics and environmental factors. Our specialty is identifying elements from a person’s environment that interrupt healthy cell development in their baby, such as alcohol and certain medications.

Discover how we are pioneering research, providing superb clinical care, and educating the next generation of leaders so we can improve lives everywhere.

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Our Leadership

Giving Families a Brighter Tomorrow

The Center for Better Beginnings co-directors, Dr. Christina Chambers and Dr. Kenneth Lyons Jones, are involved in active clinical and epidemiological research programs. They also maintain a strong commitment to teaching at the undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral levels, and participate in many programs for trainees in the areas of pediatrics, dysmorphology, teratology, genetics, epidemiology, behavioral health, and pharmacology.

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  • Excellent Patient Care

    In Better Hands With Better Beginnings

    We want every baby to have the best start in life—and if there are challenges to overcome, we’re here to provide superb clinical services. Medical staff at the Center for Better Beginnings evaluate, diagnose, and treat children with birth defects. The seamless integration of our medical staff holding dual privileges at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego (RCHSD) and UC San Diego Health allows for the best patient care and access to the largest possible network of specialists. In addition, our Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders program enables experts to screen and refer patients to RCHSD for evaluation, and also provides counseling and support to families affected by these disorders.

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  • Bringing Research to Life

    When the Outcome Counts

    By understanding the reason why certain birth defects occur, we are in a better position to prevent them. The Center for Better Beginnings is driving scientific advancement through our innovative research, addressing the gaps in knowledge related to exposures during pregnancy and while breastfeeding that could impact baby’s development. Find out how we are making research come to life, and impacting the health of future moms and babies.

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  • Professional and Continuing Education

    Just Baby Steps Away

    Expectant and new parents rely on medical professionals and trained staff to recognize problems and provide advanced care. The Center for Better Beginnings offers professional training to medical fellows and pre- and post-doctoral research scholars in the fields of dysmorphology, genetics, epidemiology and teratology.

    To complement our higher education offerings, we also provide educational workshops to health care providers, social service professionals, and the general community to educate them about the causes and impact of birth defects and how they may prevented. Our workshops are expertly crafted to educate the public by promoting maternal health and child development.

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  • Community Outreach & Empowerment

    Prenatal and Breastfeeding Information Services

    Giving children the best chance at a healthy start in life is an important public health goal. We are helping our community make informed health decisions by providing free risk assessments and up-to-date, evidence-based information on exposures during pregnancy and while breastfeeding via our MotherToBaby California program. This program is available to those residing in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and the US territories of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Island.

    Learn about this important and free public health information service.

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