With a grant from the Heinz Endowments, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) set out to educate Pittsburgh families about the scientific concepts behind having healthy babies. With the Heinz funding, AAAS wanted to break down the material in its The Science Inside: Having Healthy Babies book into concise chunks of information and create a resource customized to the needs of Pittsburgh families. A customized series of shorter booklets were produced and widely distributed throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. Many local groups including The Birth Circle/East Liberty Family Medical Center, the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, the Carnegie Library and Healthy Start participated in what became known as The Healthy Babies Pittsburgh Project.
AAAS and its Pittsburgh partners held focus groups with local birth advocates and potential users to determine what was needed by mothers in its communities. They told them that the booklet should:
- Reflect Pittsburgh with photos of people and places women would recognize
- Stress the natural process of pregnancy rather than mostly discussing risk
- Address each phase of pregnancy, birth and new baby development
- Include worksheets so that women would use them through birth
- Be even more concise, clearly written and easy to read than the original book.
As a result of what was learned, three 20-page booklets were developed, using photographs of Pittsburgh mothers, each addressing an important time in the birth process. These are currently distributed throughout southwestern Pennsylvania in venues such as health fairs (one of which was created and sponsored by AAAS), local education programs, libraries, churches, and medical facilities. Women keep and use them throughout their pregnancies. In total, more than 9,000 booklets were printed and three quarters were distributed as of December 2007.
The following materials from the project are available for download: