Research suggests nurse home visits for new mothers and infants leads to long-term benefits

(U.S.) – Researchers are reporting home visits by nurses to check in on and help first-time mothers lead to long-term benefits for mom and baby and saves in the cost of the public welfare program.

The research from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, University College London (UCL), and the University of Rochester will be published in the December issue of the Journal of Pediatrics. Officials explained the initial visits were conducted in June 1990 and continued over many years. Studies followed up on families 18 years after they participated in the nurse-visit program and researches compared the outcomes for families with control groups.

Researchers discovered Nurse-Family Partnership lead to long-term improvements in the cognitive functioning of 18-year-old youth with mothers with limited personal resources to help them deal with adversities of living in deep poverty. Officials explained this shows the positive influence of the program can carry over into adulthood for the children.

Other findings included:

  • Improved cognitive function and academic performance of 18-year-olds born to high-risk mothers with limited psychological resources to cope with poverty. Nurse-visited children were three-time as likely to graduate from high school with honors compared to their peers who did not participate in the program.
  • Savings of $17,310 per family in public benefit costs, with reduced expenditures for Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and welfare case assistance. Researchers indicated this could be due in part by nurse-visited mothers having the ability to better plan for other pregnancies.
  • Working with high-risk mothers improved their economic self-sufficiency and strengthened their families. They were more likely to get married, had higher rates of cohabitation, and a greater sense of confidence to manage challenges in their lives.

The study included 742 low-income first-time mothers, primarily African-American, and their children who were part of the Nurse-Family Partnership program in Memphis, Tenn., from June 1990 through September 2014. 85% were living in households below the federal poverty level and in highly-disadvantaged neighborhoods.

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