New intervention program for at-risk babies

Dr Anna Tottman and Kerri Felemonow are smiling inside the Women's foyer.
Dr Anna Tottman, Neonatologist, and Kerri Felemonow, Manager of the Women’s Alcohol and Drug Service (WADS), are leading this groundbreaking work.
3 July 2024 | Fundraising | Pregnancy | Your impact | Babies

The Women’s is pioneering a groundbreaking initiative, designed to offer comprehensive wrap-around care and support for babies at risk of future developmental delays due to drug or alcohol use during pregnancy.

The First Thousand Days Clinic pilot project is the first of its kind in Australia and represents a significant collaboration between the hospital, community services, and philanthropic organisations.

Research indicates that babies exposed to drugs and alcohol before birth are more likely to be born to mothers who have themselves suffered significant childhood trauma.  Their children then also face heightened risks of mental and physical health challenges, learning difficulties, poor educational achievement, and early contact with the child protection and youth justice systems. 

The First Thousand Days Clinic aims to provide early intervention and care to these at-risk children during a period of rapid brain development, helping to build strong brains and healthy attachments that will help to decrease their risks of lifelong adversity.

Dr Anna Tottman, Neonatologist, and Kerri Felemonow, Manager of the Women’s Alcohol & Drug Service (WADS), are leading this groundbreaking work.

“This pilot not only offers these babies the support required, but it’s also the wrap around coordinated care which will give them the best chance to thrive in life,” Kerri says.

“We aim to support children in this first, most crucial stage of their lives, helping to break the cycles of disadvantage that have already impacted them before birth, and giving them the very best chance to thrive in infancy, childhood and beyond,” Dr Tottman says.

“The foundations for a healthy adulthood are laid in the first thousand days. We hope that our focus on this critical developmental period will positively impact these children for many years to come.”

Thank you to our supporters

The First Thousand Days Clinic has garnered generous support from several funding partners: Collier Charitable Fund (Principal Funder), The Jack and Ethel Goldin Foundation, North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network, Capricorn Foundation and State Trustees Australia Foundation. Parallel research efforts are supported by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute’s Centre for Research Excellence in Newborn Medicine and The University of Melbourne. 

The pilot team will collaborate with community services and link these babies into the services they individually require assisting in their healthy life trajectory to prevent the onset of mental health, developmental issues, and other adverse outcomes as they age.

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Generous donations from our supporters enables programs like the First Thousand Days Clinic to continue. Find out how you can donate to the Women's