National group selects Rhode Island as a ‘learning lab’ state to prevent neonatal withdrawal.
The National Governors Association selected Rhode Island as one of five states to help develop a strategic action plan to reduce the number of infants born dependent on opioids, known as neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). It’s one of two projects that the NGA announced in February to help states combat the effects of the nationwide opioid epidemic.
The rate of infants born in Rhode Island with NAS doubled in a decade, to nearly 10 per 1,000 live births in 2014. Governor Gina Raimondo formed a task force that includes medical professionals, substance use treatment providers, and educators to oversee and coordinate the state’s participation in the NGA initiative.
Barry Lester, PhD, professor of psychiatry and human behavior and of pediatrics at the Warren Alpert Medical School, is co-leading a nationwide trial to compare treatments of NAS and to study long-term effects of prenatal opioid exposures. He’s also the director of the Brown Center for the Study of Children at Risk, whose clinical services include supporting families of children with NAS.
“We are very pleased and excited to be able to provide these much-needed services to this vulnerable and growing patient population,” Lester says. “We firmly believe that these services will prevent or ameliorate the future suffering of these children as well as reduce the financial burden on Rhode Island.”