Rhode Island Perinatal Hepatitis Program Honored

Providence, RI, April 10, 2009 --(PR.com)-- The Rhode Island Perinatal Hepatitis Prevention Program – a collaborative effort of Women & Infants Hospital, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, the VNA of Care New England, and the Rhode Island Department of Health – was recently recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Rhode Island has the highest immunization rate in the country – 95% for three doses in the first eight months of life – for infants born to women with hepatitis B.

The Perinatal Hepatitis Prevention Program includes screening, referral and case management services for pregnant women and new mothers infected with chronic hepatitis B or C virus. The goal of the program is to prevent perinatal hepatitis infection in infants. Treatment is also offered for women who have already delivered.

“This is an outstanding achievement, and the Rhode Island Hepatitis Prevention Program staff should be commended for their hard work and efforts,” commented Gayle S. Daniels, MSA, MCC, project officer in the Immunization Services Division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Through the program, pregnant women and new mothers receive a home visit from a nurse case manager at no cost to the family. The visit includes education about hepatitis, breastfeeding, nutrition, and information about community resources. In addition, care is coordinated for women and their infants to ensure that infants born to women with the hepatitis B virus complete the hepatitis B vaccination series and recommended testing for immunity. Infants born to women with the hepatitis C virus are followed to ensure recommended testing for the hepatitis C virus is completed.

“We are working closely with the obstetricians and gynecologists to identify and refer women to this program for help,” said Silvia Degli-Esposti, MD, medical director of the Center for Women’s Gastrointestinal Services at Women & Infants Hospital and an associate professor at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. “The obstetrician is often the first to recognize the viral infection in the mother because of the intensive blood work done when a woman is pregnant. Healthy women don’t always go to the doctor, but they do go to the obstetrician when they get pregnant. In our office, we follow and treat mothers infected with hepatitis throughout and following pregnancy.”

For more information about the Rhode Island Perinatal Hepatitis Prevention Program, go to health.ri.gov/immunization/perinatal-hepatitis.php.

Women & Infants Hospital
Amy Blustein