In spite of declining numbers nationally, teen pregnancy in the Los Angeles area remains among the highest. Unfortunately, about one in five teens receives no prenatal care before the third trimester. Babies born to teen mothers are two to three times more likely to die in their first year than those born to women in their 20s. They are more likely to be delivered pre-term, underweight and developmentally delayed.
The Cradle Project, an effort of both Cedars-Sinai and The Saban Free Clinic (formerly named the Los Angeles Free Clinic), addresses these issues for homeless, runaway and high-risk young women at the Clinic's Hollywood Center. The Cradle Project provides pregnant teens with complete health education, nutrition counseling, psychosocial support, parenting classes, family planning counseling and medical care during pregnancy and the first two months after delivery. As a testament to its value, about 85% of its clients enter the program in the first trimester of pregnancy. Most have healthy babies with few or no complications.
The Cradle Project personnel provides care for young women of varied ethnic backgrounds. About 45% of clients are Latina, 25% are Caucasian, 20% are African American and 5% are Asian/Pacific Islander. Besides caring for the young women and their babies, the Cradle Project guides them to community support programs, including job training and education, to help them become self-sufficient.