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Long-term study backs impact of US family nursing initiative

A nurse home-visiting programme for first-time young mothers from less-affluent backgrounds reduces mortality levels for both them and their infants, a long-term study has found.

Researchers looked at the impact of the US version of the Family Nurse Partnership programme – first introduced in England in 2007 – over a 20-year period, from 1990 to 2011.

Their study assessed the impact of the prenatal and postnatal visiting programme on pregnancy outcomes and maternal and child health up to the age of two in 1,138 mothers and their children.

Participants were primarily African-American women and children living in “highly disadvantaged urban neighbourhoods”, the researchers said. The women were randomised to receive either the home visiting programme or standard pre- and postnatal care, including screening.

Over 20 years, families on the nurse visiting programme experienced significantly fewer maternal and child deaths and injuries, were involved in less crime and had 8% less Medicaid costs up to the age of 18.

University of Colorado

David Olds

The study was carried out by Professor David Olds, who along with his team at the University of Colorado’s school of nursing, created the Nurse-Family Partnership programme over 30 years ago.

In the journal JAMA Paediatrics, they wrote: “Prenatal and infant/toddler home visitation by nurses is a promising means of reducing all-cause mortality among mothers and preventable-cause mortality in their first-born children living in highly disadvantaged settings.”

Research commissioned by the Department of Health on the impact of the English version of the programme is expected to be published later this year.


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