The $41,000 grant will ensure the Sansum Diabetes program continues to promote the health of low-income Latina women between pregnancies and provide ways to prevent or control diabetes before their next pregnancy.
This is the third year March of Dimes has sponsored Sansum Diabetes "Seeds of Change." Since the program's inception in 2012, it has provided support to nearly 50 women in Santa Barbara County with type 2 diabetes or a history of gestational diabetes.
"Uncontrolled diabetes during pregnancy creates huge health risks for both mother and child, including birth defects, miscarriage, and an increased risk of diabetes during subsequent pregnancies or later in life," said Rem Laan, executive director for Sansum Diabetes Research Institute. "We value and appreciate March of Dimes' continued faith and investment in us to effectively deliver this vital program to women in our community."
The Seeds of Change seven-week program provides support and information about diabetes, healthy eating, physical activity, breastfeeding, stress management and family planning to Latina women who had diabetes during a previous pregnancy. The program fills a gap in local medical services by continuing to provide support after the 6-8 week postpartum medical services expire.
"Seeds of Change," offered in Spanish, consists of weekly 90-minute classes. With the program in its third year, Sansum Diabetes is realizing its goal of having the program be entirely community-led, with all classes taught by women who are trained as peer health advocates, or "Promotoras."
In the months to come, six certified Promotoras — trained by Sansum Diabetes' staff in collaboration with the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department — will continue facilitating "Seeds of Change" classes in addition to mentoring the nearly 15 women who are Promotoras-in-Training. As the program expands, the goal is to reach more women who take part in the County's Maternal, Child, and Adolescent Health Program (MCAH) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutrition program.
"Diabetes in pregnancy is the leading cause of birth defects in the 21st century," said Dr. Kristin Castorino, medical director of the program at Sansum Diabetes Research Institute. "The Seeds of Change program is providing relevant, real-world solutions to this problem. It's a model of how we can effectively control disease through proactive education and prevention."
In collaboration with March of Dimes and the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department's MCAH and WIC programs, Sansum Diabetes will continue to teach mothers how they and their children can live healthier, happier lives.
— Erinn Lynch is a publicist representing the Sansum Diabetes Research Institute.