The Hassenfeld Study

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At just over 1,200 square miles, Rhode Island is the smallest state. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in opportunity. With just one medical school, one children’s hospital and one women’s hospital, and home to the world-class Brown University, Rhode Island presents myriad possibilities for collaboration and innovation in children’s health.

The Hassenfeld Study seizes on this opportunity by engaging Rhode Island families in research that has the ability to make an impact on the lives of children. Our staff enroll women either during early pregnancy or at the time of delivery and develop relationships with them while collecting key information on their health and the health of their infants. By following infants through early childhood, our researchers can investigate early determinants of child health and develop innovative treatments for childhood asthma, autism and more. The prospective birth cohort study provides a framework for assessing the impact of cutting-edge approaches to improve the health of families.    


The Prospective Birth Cohort is directed by Dr. Melissa Clark and Dr. Erika Werner and is supported by a team of staff and research assistants. 


1. Asthma Birth Cohort (ABC) study

The Asthma Birth Cohort (ABC) Study is currently enrolling pregnant women with asthma and will follow up with them at home visits before and after they deliver.  The study will be looking at factors that may predict the development of asthma in children, such as stress, diet, sleep, and genetics. 


2. Prospective Infant Behavioral Study (PIBS)

The Prospective Infant Behavioral Study (PIBS) study is currently enrolling pregnant women to learn more about behaviors in newborns that may be related to developmental delays. This study involves two visits. The first involves a standardized assessment at birth that will help researchers learn more about how behaviors in newborns relate to their development. A second visit at 8 months of age will involve showing the infant videos on a screen, that will help study personnel understand how he or she learns.

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3. Let’s Talk About Hookah

Let's Talk About Hookah is a research study investigating the impact of various flavors and design features of hookah on pregnancy. Pregnant women are given the opportunity to share their thoughts, opinions, and experience with hookah use. Participants will complete two interviews during pregnancy and one in the postpartum period. 

4. Sleep Study

The Sleep Study is a study of the use of CPAP in pregnancy. The goal is to understand if using CPAP in pregnancy can help women have healthier pregnancies.