Interested in working with the Center for Better Beginnings at UC San Diego?

The Center for Better Beginnings is dedicated to advancing maternal and child health through multiple programs. Housed in the University of California San Diego Department of Pediatrics, our team consists of world-renowned medical professionals, researchers, and dedicated staff who are actively engaged in public education and service and who are conducting cutting-edge research. Healthy pregnancies and healthy babies are our priority and our passion.

Our Programs At A Glance


MotherToBaby is a no-cost information service that provides risk assessments for pregnant and lactating people and healthcare professionals. Focusing on environmental exposures during pregnancy and lactation such as medications, vaccines, maternal health conditions, substances of abuse, and more, we provide evidence-based, up-to-date information on whether or how these exposures could affect a pregnancy or a nursing infant.

We also run MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies, a research program seeking to understand how certain medications, vaccines, or health conditions may affect pregnancy. All MotherToBaby Pregnancy Studies are observational; those who participate are never asked to take or change any aspect of their current health routine. We enroll pregnant people across the U.S. and Canada, and participation takes place from the comfort of home. These studies are vital to generating the real-world data that can ultimately help clinicians and people who are pregnant understand what may be safe and what should be avoided in pregnancy.

Mommy’s Milk Research Biorepository

Mommy’s Milk is a first-of-its-kind research program that is dedicated to better understanding “liquid gold” and its many benefits for infants. We enroll breast/chestfeeding parents from across the U.S. The parent provides a sample of their milk as well as information from interviews, questionnaires, and medical records. All of this information is then securely stored and can be accessed by researchers who want to unravel the mysteries of human milk and how it influences child health and development.

The Institute for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Discovery (IFASDD)

The Institute for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders Discovery was founded to integrate education, screening, and research on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and to provide support to families affected by these conditions. Exposure to alcohol during pregnancy can cause a range of life-long physical, mental, behavioral, and/or learning disability-related effects.

Research suggests that FASD may be as common as – if not more common than – Autism Spectrum Disorders. Led by Dr. Kenneth Lyons Jones, the physician who co-identified fetal alcohol syndrome in 1973, the Institute is the nation’s leading epicenter for work to prevent alcohol-exposed pregnancies and to assist those who are affected. As a multidisciplinary center, we’ve assembled clinicians, researchers, parent advocates, and educators as a think-tank for this under-recognized disorder.


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