Who We Are

MotherToBaby MA [formerly The Pregnancy Exposure InfoLine (PEIL)] is a service provided free of charge to clinicians and the general public that offers practical evidence-based information about exposures during pregnancy and potential effects to the developing fetus. We provide information in a non-judgmental manner on common daily exposures such as hair dye, paint, and herbal products to more specific exposures including illicit drugs, medications, infections, chemicals and many more.

MotherToBaby MA (then the Pregnancy Environmental Hotline) was created in 1983 as an auxiliary service provided by the National Birth Defects Center (now known as The Feingold Center for Children), a clinic that provides state of the art, coordinated and humanistic care for children born with birth defects, genetic diseases or mental retardation. The clinic was opened under the supervision of Dr. Murray Feingold who also developed the Genesis Fund, a non-profit organization that raises money for the specialized care and treatment of New England area children.



Once the clinic was formed, it generated interest from the public about all aspects of pregnancy, including birth defects and genetic disorders. Calls were received from concerned parents-to-be regarding hazards to their unborn child. As the calls increased, Dr. Feingold saw the need to provide assistance and information regarding various exposures and the effects of medicines on the fetus and the program was established to address these questions.

The staff of MotherToBaby MA consists of health educators and physicians who have specialized training in genetics, birth defects and teratology (the study of birth defects or abnormal development during pregnancy).

MotherToBaby MA is a member of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS)



Catherine Bearce Nowak MD, Director

Dr. Catherine Nowak is a graduate of Dartmouth College with a degree in Biology and Psychology. She received her medical degree from McGill University. Following her pediatric internship and residency at University of Massachusetts Medical Center, she completed a fellowship in Clinical Genetics and Birth Defects at the National Birth Defects Center with Dr. Feingold. She served in the position of clinical geneticist at the National Birth Defects Center (now known as The Feingold Center for Children) and went on to become the Chief of the Genetics division at UMass Memorial Medical Center. Dr. Nowak returned to The Feingold Center in 2006. She is board certified both in Pediatrics and in Clinical Genetics. She lectures extensively in community hospitals about topics in genetics.


Patricia Markland Cole, MPH, Program Coordinator

Patricia Cole obtained her Bachelors of Science degree in Biology from Simmons College in Boston, MA. She obtained her Master’s in Public Health with a focus on  Maternal and Child Health from Boston University School of Public Health. She provides oversight for the day-to-day functions of MotherToBaby and promotion of the program as well as quality of service. She provides information to the public and clinicians and provides training graduate students.  She is a Board Member for the National MotherToBaby Program and serves on various committees in education, research and public affairs.


Jessica L. Douglas, MS, LGC Consulting Genetics Counselor

Ms. Douglas has a Masters in Genetic Counseling from Brandeis University. She is board certified by the American Board of Genetic Counselors and licensed in the State of Massachusetts. She been practicing in the field of genetic counseling since 2004 with experience in high risk pregnancies, teratogens and assisted reproductive technology (ART). Ms. Douglas is available to help patients and their families with their genetic questions and help facilitate testing and support. She provides genetic counseling to adults regarding personal and family medical histories as well as pre-conceptual and pre-natal concerns.


logo-3The Genesis Foundation

The mission of The Genesis Foundation, a non-profit organization, is to raise funds to enrich the lives of children and their families affected by birth defects, genetic disorders and intellectual disabilities. Our vision is that all children born with physiological and genetic challenges receive the care necessary to maximize their potential.