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September 20, 2000

Promise and Limitations of Home Visitation

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Children, Families, and Communities, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Los Altos, Calif.

JAMA. 2000;284(11):1430-1431. doi:10.1001/jama.284.11.1430

The article by Eckenrode et al1 in this issue of THE JOURNAL continues 20 years of research and publication regarding the Nurse Home Visitation Program (NHVP), a home visitation program for pregnant and parenting mothers and their infants, begun in Elmira, NY, and largely replicated in Memphis, Tenn. Previous findings from Elmira and Memphis suggested that nurse home-visitation services, begun during pregnancy and continuing through the first 2 years of a child's life, produced benefits in a broad range of domains, including prevention of child maltreatment. Specifically, findings from Elmira indicated that children of nurse-visited mothers were less likely to be abused or neglected than a control group during the first 2 years of the children's lives,2 and their mothers were less likely to be identified as perpetrators of child maltreatment during the period between the children's fourth and fifteenth birthdays.3 Nurse-visited children were also less likely to be taken to the emergency department for injuries or ingestions (a proxy for maltreatment). In Memphis, nurse-visited children spent fewer days hospitalized for injuries or ingestions than did a control group.4