Ken Hammond / USDA

Rhode Island has certified its first lactation consultant. Breastfeeding experts have been helping new mothers for a long time. But this is the first state licensure in the nation.

Rhode Island Department of Health

Nurses and social workers will visit more homes across Rhode Island thanks to a two-year, $10 million dollar federal grant aimed at helping pregnant women and young children. The program could soon be serving more than a thousand Rhode Island families.

Congress established this home visiting program a few years ago to help families reduce the risks of pre-term births, low birth weights, and infant mortality. This round of funding marks a big expansion of the program in Rhode Island, said State Health Department Director Doctor Michael Fine.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A new study from Women and Infants Hospital researchers finds that newborn intensive care patients fare better in single family rooms than in the traditional open wards found in most NICUs. The hospital opened its new NICU five years ago. Now researchers believe they can answer why it’s better for babies.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

More Rhode Island babies are being born dependent on the opioid drugs their pregnant mothers were taking. Their condition, called neonatal abstinence syndrome, sometimes requires hospital stays and powerful medications. In the second of our two-part series, the story of a newborn going through withdrawal and a young mother trying to make a new life for him in recovery. (You can listen to part one of our series here.)

Visiting baby Jonathan
“Where’s everybody headed?”

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

More Rhode Island babies are being born dependent on the opioid drugs (including OxyContin and heroin) their pregnant mothers were taking. Many of these babies need hospital stays and powerful medication to help them through the painful withdrawal. Now, researchers at Women & Infants Hospital are trying to pin down what treatments work best, and what the long-term impacts are. Part one of our two-part series on newborns in withdrawal.

A rough entry into the world

(Sound: subtle whirring of the nursery)

The state’s health department says the number of babies born in Rhode Island to mothers dependent on opiates has nearly doubled in the past few years.

In 2012, it was 90 babies, more than double the number in 2005. So far, in the first quarter of this year, it’s 26 newborns.

This is the first time health department researchers have compiled statistics on babies diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome, a collection of symptoms that afflict babies in withdrawal from the drugs they were exposed to in the womb. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The rising number of Rhode Islanders struggling with an addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin has brought an increase in babies born addicted to these substances. And Women & Infants Hospital is treating a growing number of them.


Scientists have come a step closer to understanding when the signs of Alzheimer’s begin. Brown University researchers and their colleagues have found some of the earliest evidence yet.

A labor dispute at Women and Infants Hospital in Providence has erupted over the layoff of 16 staff members. The layoffs, and the dispute, turn on the definition of a single word: deliveries.

Members of the Service Employees International Union local 1199 are picketing outside Women and Infants over the hospital’s decision to cut several cleaning, lab, and clinical staff. Union spokesman Patrick Quinn says his members dispute the hospital’s claim that the number of deliveries – and therefore the need for as many staff – has dropped below 8500 over the past year.

You may have heard about a new study to be published in the journal of the American Association of Pediatrics about finding high levels of harmful bacteria in breast milk bought from online sources. Here's USA Today's coverage of that study.

US Navy

Women and Infants Hospital is responding to allegations that a research study of premature babies in which it participated didn’t properly inform parents of the risks.

The Westerly Sun reported earlier this month that the attorney in charge of Westerly Hospital since it entered receivership had declared the struggling hospital’s obstetric services safe. But the paper is now reporting that Westerly Hospital will deliver its last babies by this June. Deliveries at the community hospital have fallen over the years, and the hospital may not be able to sustain a large enough roster of doctors to keep the maternity ward doors open.

No pun intended. Well, OK, maybe a little bit intended.

But seriously, folks. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has published its 2012 breastfeeding report card for all 50 states. And Rhode Island seems to be making progress in some areas. But not all. We’re lagging behind on a few key measures. For example, the report shows that about 34% of Rhode Island babies were fed breast milk, exclusively, through the age of three months. The national average is 36%.

First, here’s how the CDC describes what the report aims to tell us and how states play a role:

Diapers? Check. Bottles? Check. Pets? Check.

Jul 11, 2012

Rhode Island pet lovers and potential/current parents, perk up your ears!