1. Kennedy, Maureen Shawn MA, RN

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In the early 1990s researchers conducted a randomized, controlled trial in Memphis, Tennessee, in which the primary intervention consisted of home visits by public health nurses to new, first-time mothers, most of whom were poor, unmarried, black, and 18 years old or younger. Home visits began during pregnancy and continued until the child reached the age of two years. The program was designed to improve prenatal care and pregnancy outcomes; support children's health and development; promote parenting skills; and enhance aspects of the mothers' lives, such as education, work, and relationships with partners.


When the children turned six, four years after the intervention ended, researchers reexamined them and their mothers to see whether the benefits shown in the first study had endured. Data on 693 children (480 controls and 213 who had received home visits) were available. Children in the intervention group scored higher on intellectual function and receptive vocabulary tests and had fewer behavioral problems, compared with children in the control group.


Also, mothers who had received visits from nurses had fewer subsequent pregnancies, longer intervals between the first and second child, and longer relationships with their partners; fewer were receiving welfare and food stamps. The program appears to have had long-lasting benefits to both the at-risk mothers and their children.


Olds DL, et al. Pediatrics 2004;144(6):1550-9.