Welcome to the State of California 

Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative Fact Sheet

MO-07-0144 PC


  • Pregnancy outcomes are impacted by the overall health of the mother over the course of her life
  • Poor health before pregnancy contributes to preterm births, low birth weight babies, major birth defects, pregnancy complications, and even maternal and infant deaths.
  • Use of the Perinatal Periods of Risk methodology indicates that excess fetal and infant deaths are related to lack of adequate preconception maternal health, and therefore can be addressed through preconception and interpregnancy interventions


  • Improve the health and well-being of women prior to pregnancy and work toward eliminating disparities in maternal and infant morbidity and mortality.

Current Problems

  • Despite increased utilization of prenatal care, a corresponding improvement in pregnancy outcomes, including preterm births and low birth weight, has not occurred in the U.S. over the past two decades.  In California, the infant mortality rate, maternal mortality ratio, and premature and low birth weight rates continue to exceed Healthy People 2020 national objectives.
  • California’s rate of infant mortality remains higher than the national rate and African-American infants in California are more than two and half times more likely than White infants to die before their first birthday.
  • Since the mid-1990s, maternal mortality rates have been increasing. In 2008, 14.0 women died per 100,000 live births and African-American mothers have a pregnancy-related mortality rate four times higher than that of Whites.
  • Among California live births in 2007, the frequency of unintended pregnancy was 45%, thus women often conceive in less than ideal health and while engaging in behaviors that can be dangerous to a pregnancy.  Among reports on non-pregnant California women of reproductive age in 2007,4 28% were overweight, 23% were obese, 13% were current smokers, 9% had been diagnosed with diabetes, and 63% did not consume folic acid daily. Most critical periods of fetal development occur in the earliest weeks of pregnancy, often before many women know they are pregnant or enter prenatal care.


  • The First National Summit on Preconception Health, organized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was held in June 2005.  During the Summit, the CDC convened the Select Panel on Preconception Care, which included experts from a variety of national organizations concerned about the health of women, infants, and families.
  • Together, the CDC internal workgroup and the Select Panel developed a set of 10 recommendations for improving preconception health and health care.  The recommendations were published in the MMWR Recommendations and Reports on April 21, 2006.
  • Building on the impetus set by CDC, the Preconception Health Council of California (PHCC) was convened in May 2006 with the leadership of the Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Program of the California Department of Public Health and the March of Dimes California Chapter.  A statewide forum for planning and decision-making for the integration, development and promotion of optimal health before pregnancy, the PCCC is composed of representatives from organizations and programs that are stakeholders in the development of preconception care services in California.
  • The PHCC, in collaboration with CDC and Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), hosted the Second National Summit on Preconception Health and Health Care in Oakland, CA on October 29-31, 2007.
  • The Third National Summit on Preconception Health and Health Care was hosted in Tampa, FL on June 12-14, 2011.
  • The CDC Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative launched a national preconception health campaign, Show Your Love on February 14, 2013.

Program Activities

  • The MCAH Program promotes preconception health messages to women of reproductive age, integrates preconception care into public health practice, monitors preconception health indicators among California women of reproductive age, and evaluates preconception health programs and interventions to guide outreach strategies.  The MCAH Program also supports Local MCAH Programs to conduct educational programs about preconception health to women and to providers and address health behaviors and conditions that can cause poor pregnancy outcomes.
  • MCAH Program representatives participate in the PHCC quarterly meetings and workgroups.  The PHCC achieves consensus on goals, objectives, and activities in the development of a statewide strategic plan in accordance with the CDC’s Select Panel Recommendations on preconception care.
  • Each of the two workgroups—Clinical/Research and Public Health/Consumer—has developed an action plan for its particular area of focus and
    workgroup members are collaborating with local partners to implement these plans. Current activities include:
    • Developing provider education tools, such as lecture templates for all types of clinical providers, and exploring the possibility of local pilot research projects;
    • Clarifying the role that existing MCAH programs play in preconception health promotion and developing curricula and messaging to support and expand these efforts.
  • A website for the Preconception Health and Health Care Initiative features resources, tools and best practices for professionals and serves as a networking site for those interested in preconception health and health care. It also has information and preconception health factsheets for the general public.
  • With funding from the HRSA, three social media campaigns were developed to target African-American women, Latina women, and Youth of Color with culturally appropriate and tailored preconception health messages.
  • MCAH partners with the Federal Office of Minority Health to train and support Preconception Peer Educators in California Colleges/Universities.

Who Benefits

  • All women, their partners, and their infants.
  • All Californians, since healthy women and infants incur fewer health care expenses.

Who Provides Services

  • Local MCAH jurisdictions who incorporate preconception health and health care activities into their existing MCAH programs.
  • The MCAH Preconception Health Coordinator provides training and technical assistance to interested local programs


Last modified on: 3/5/2013 10:52 AM