Waste Management Announced Preconception Education Program

Hanford, Calif., Dec. 22, 2010 – Kings County Health Director, Keith Winkler, today announced that the Board of Supervisors has approved a Memorandum of Understanding between the County Public Health Department and Waste Management (WM) to develop a special two year preconception education program.

Preconception care is the care provided to women in the planning of their future pregnancies. Preconception programs promote, through targeted outreach and education, the health of women of reproductive age before conception in order to improve pregnancy related outcomes. Critical periods of fetal development begin at week five and continue through week eleven; yet many women are not aware of their pregnancy until after weeks 7 or 8 and may not begin prenatal care until week 12. Preconception care helps reduce medical risks prior to conception as well as encourage early prenatal care. Preconception care and quality early prenatal care greatly increase the probability of a healthy birth outcome.

Waste Management officials approached the county about developing a program that would provide increased public information about preconception and prenatal health. Over the past year, there has been increased interest and concern regarding birth defects in Kettleman City and other local communities. The Kings County Board of Supervisors requested that Winkler review these concerns and respond to them quickly.

Under the agreement with the County, WM will fund health education activities, including the dissemination of bilingual educational materials to the medical community, schools, and women. These activities will integrate written health information, oral presentations, health fairs, one on one interaction, and other media venues with a goal of improving the knowledge, attitudes and behavior of women and men related to preconception health. The Public Health Department will also collaborate with medical community partners to develop a countywide preconception health guideline to encourage health care providers to incorporate preconception health into their practices. In addition, the Health Department will develop a curriculum on preconception health and collaborate with schools, teachers, school nurses and parents to deliver the preconception message to students. Michael C. Lu, MD, MPH, Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Public Health at UCLA stated: “This program is an important first step to improving maternal health and birth outcomes in Kings County.”

Winkler stated: “A lot of good questions about preconception care and the cause of birth defects have been raised by residents, and the county believes that there is a need to provide improved public health information. In addition to birth defects, other adverse birth outcomes include premature and low birth weight babies. The object of the new program is to insure that the preconception health message is promoted during medical office visits, school settings and community outreach activities to all women of childbearing age and their partners. We will provide information about many of the factors that impact pregnancy outcomes including medical conditions, emotional stress, personal behaviors and environmental exposures that can impact pregnancy outcomes. The County appreciates Waste Management’s interest in the issue of preconception education and its offer to fund this two‐year program.”

Bob Henry, Senior District Manager for the Waste Management, Kettleman Hills Facility added, “We are very happy to collaborate with the County Department of Public Health to provide this important new county‐wide public education program aimed at providing essential public health information to the women and families of Kings County.”