UCLA School of Public Health Field Studies Program


Community Health Sciences

Field Placement: Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health
Location:
Los Angeles, CA
Preceptor:
Diana Liu
Student Name: Robin Lowney Lankton
Year: 2005

Addressing Low Birth Weight through the Los Angeles Mommy and Baby Survey, Black Infant Health Project, and Performance Measures

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (LADHS) Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health (MCAH) is responsible for planning, implementing and evaluating services that address the health priorities and primary needs of mothers, fathers, children and adolescents in LA County through assessment, policy development and quality assurance. Through the Graduate Student Internship Program I was placed in MCAH in the Research, Evaluation, and Planning unit (REP), which assists MCAH in through research and quality assurance that utilizes current information technology.

During my field study I worked on three projects that each relate to the issue of low birthweight (LBW), which is defined as weight less than 2,500 grams at birth. LBW often results from preterm birth or intrauterine growth restriction and can cause infant mortality. Two-thirds of perinatal mortality can be attributed to LBW, as well as half of children’s long-term neurological disabilities. The consequences of LBW affect families and have been linked to decreased maternal and child attachment, maladaptive parental behavior, and strained parental employment.

My objectives were: a) improving my program planning and data collection skills by assisting with the Los Angeles Mommy and Baby Survey; b) developing analytical skills by collaborating with the Black Infant Health project to create an intervention to reduce infant mortality in Antelope Valley; and c) improving my evaluation skills by working on the Performance Measures team.

In addition to working on a variety of projects I learned a great deal about the MCAH program and the County Health Department as a whole. By working on my projects I was able to realize my strengths in public health. I had the opportunity to attend a number of meetings and one-on-one discussions with County staff that helped me focus my career goals and interests.

 

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