AURORA, Colo. (Dec. 9, 2013) – Home visits by nurses
to low-income pregnant women and parents of young children had some positive
benefits for the children on cognitive and behavioral measures at ages 6 and 9,
according to the results of a clinical trial published by JAMA Pediatrics.
visits by nurses to low-income families have been promoted as one strategy to
improve health and development outcomes for first-born children from those families.
L. Olds, PhD, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of
Medicine, and colleagues followed up with participants in a randomized trial in
Denver that included 735 low-income women, most of them unmarried, and their
first-born children as part of the Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), a program
that today is being conducted in 43 states throughout the U.S. and in seven
other societies, including England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the
Netherlands, Australia and Canada.
goals of the NFP are to improve outcomes of pregnancy by helping women improve
their health-related behavior, improve their children’s subsequent health and
development by helping parents provide competent care, and enhancing a mother’s
personal development by promoting the planning of future pregnancies. The
Denver trial tested the program model when delivered by paraprofessionals, who
were required to have a high school education and no college preparation in the
helping professions and who also shared many of the same social characteristics
as the families they visited.
found that children born to mothers with low psychological resources but
visited by paraprofessionals showed fewer errors in visual attention/task
switching at age 9 years. Children visited by nurses were less likely to be
classified as having total emotional/behavioral problems at age 6 years,
internalizing problems at age 9 years, and dysfunctional attention at age 9
years. Nurse-visited children born to low-resource mothers also had better
receptive language and sustained attention averages over time.
the NFP is replicated and tested in new randomized clinical trials throughout
the United States and other societies, it will be important to determine
whether it is particularly successful in reducing disparities in health,
achievement and economic productivity among children born to mothers who have
limited psychological resources and who are living in severely disadvantaged
neighborhoods, as this will enable policy makers to focus NFP resources where
they produce the greatest benefit,” the authors conclude.
JAMA Pediatrics article is available online as is an
interview with Olds.
directs the Prevention Research Center for Family and Child Health where he has
been affiliated since 1993. Earlier this year he was named the 2012-2013
recipient of the Chase Faculty Community Service Award. Each year, a full-time
CU faculty member who provides exceptional service to the community receives a
$10,000 endowment, funded by a grant from Chase.
at the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine work to advance science and
improve care. These faculty members include physicians, educators and scientists
at University of Colorado Health, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver Health,
National Jewish Health, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. The
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