A long-term study engages Rhode Island families in research that may help countless children.
In Rhode Island, when pregnant women are ready to deliver their babies, 80 percent of them check in at Women & Infants Hospital, making it one of the largest obstetrical care hospitals in the country. If kids need urgent care, parents can rush them to Hasbro Children’s Hospital, which handles 90 percent of pediatric hospitalizations in the state. Nearby, Bradley Hospital is devoted to child and adolescent mental health.
There is no other state in the nation where so much of the population’s medical care takes place in an area that is, in effect, akin to the campus of a single medical school—in this case The Warren Alpert Medical School, which includes each of the three among its teaching hospital affiliates.
To build on the unique opportunity offered by that continuity of care, the Brown-based Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute commenced in 2017 an eponymous study of pregnant women and their babies over time. The original prenatal cohort of the Hassenfeld Study gathers data from pregnant women in their first or second trimester and follows them until after delivery. The study’s postnatal cohort, launched two years later, focuses on women after they have delivered at Women & Infants. Participants agree to share demographic information, provide saliva and blood samples, and complete regular surveys about their health.
To date, more than 1,000 women have enrolled, with between 40 and 60 new moms and their infants continuing to join each month. This treasure trove of data enables researchers to look for patterns and make predictions about maternal and child health.