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April 23, 1997

The Infant Health and Development Program: Results at 8 Years

Author Affiliations

San Francisco, Calif

JAMA. 1997;277(16):1278. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540400028020

To the Editor.  —McCarton et al1 present impressive data clearly showing that a 3-year early intervention program failed to produce any significant or meaningful improvement in cognitive function or academic achievement when each child was evaluated at age 8 years. Even at age 5 years, there was little if any improvement, and the present follow-up found even less than before. One is tempted to predict that a follow-up at age 12 years would find imperceptible differences among the groups.These findings bring into question the conclusion by McCarton et al that this study "indicates a need to develop additional intervention strategies for LBW children that can provide sustained benefits." This well-designed, well-executed, and expensive trial seriously challenges the validity of the strategies used here, since it failed to provide any long-term improvement. The outcome of this investigation suggests that merely revising the disproved strategies used here would be wasting time and money.