Did you know? January is Birth Defects Prevention Month. Almost 160,000 babies are still affected by birth defects each year, many of which are avoidable.
The California Teratogen Information Service (CTIS) Pregnancy Health InformationLine is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing information and counseling to pregnant and nursing women. Traditionally a hotline-based service, CTISrecently expanded to include a chat service on its interactive website.
“We are proud and very excited to be able to use this technology as an option for women who need our services, and look forward to demonstrating how valuable this is,” says Dr. Christina Chambers, associate professor of pediatrics at UCSD and program director of CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line. “One of our goals at CTIS is to build on advances in technology to bring our free services to more women of all different backgrounds who have questions about the safety of exposures in pregnancy and while breastfeeding. This will help us achieve that goal.”
While the CTISwebsite contains a myriad of fact sheets about topics related to the emotional and physical health of pregnant women, the chat room will provide a live resource for expectant mothers to voice fears and concerns and even ask banal questions they may be afraid to pose face-to-face.
“This will be for women who feel like they don't have time to call us on our traditional hotline and prefer to use their computer or laptop,” says Sonia Alvarado, a CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line supervising counselor. “This option will also be ideal for women who are uncomfortable talking to someone on the phone, although our services are provided confidentially and can be provided anonymously, whether by phone or chat.”
Women can log on to chat with private counselors. It is a free service, and most importantly, it's staffed by professionals.
“We're aiming to make the website as interactive as possible so it's a gathering place for moms and healthcare providers alike,” said Alvarado. “The quality of the information is evidence-based regardless of the method we use to communicate it, so women and providers can be sure that however they reach out to us, professionalism is not compromised.”
Learn more about this valuable service in this video, provided by CTIS: