[Skip to Navigation]
Sign In
August 27, 1997

Effect of Prenatal and Infancy Home Visitation by Nurses on Pregnancy Outcomes, Childhood Injuries, and Repeated Childbearing: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Author Affiliations

From the School of Nursing (Dr Kitzman) and Departments of Psychiatry (Dr Cole), Obstetrics and Gynecology (Dr Tatelbaum), and Pediatrics (Dr McConnochie and Ms Sidora), University of Rochester, Rochester, NY; Departments of Pediatrics (Dr Olds) and Preventive Medicine and Biostatistics (Dr Luckey), University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver; Department of Human Development, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (Mr Henderson); School of Nursing, Baylor University, Houston, Tex (Dr Hanks); Presbyterian Health Services, Charlotte, NC (Dr Shaver); College of Nursing (Dr Engelhardt) and Department of Pediatrics (Dr James), University of Tennessee, Memphis; and School of Nursing, University of Washington, Seattle (Dr Barnard).

JAMA. 1997;278(8):644-652. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550080054039

Context.  —Interest in home-visitation services as a way of improving maternal and child outcomes has grown out of the favorable results of a trial in semirural New York. The findings have not been replicated in other populations.

Objective.  —To test the effect of prenatal and infancy home visits by nurses on pregnancy-induced hypertension, preterm delivery, and low birth weight; on children's injuries, immunizations, mental development, and behavioral problems; and on maternal life course.

Design.  —Randomized controlled trial.

Setting.  —Public system of obstetric care in Memphis, Tenn.

Participants.  —A total of 1139 primarily African-American women at less than 29 weeks' gestation, with no previous live births, and with at least 2 sociodemographic risk characteristics (unmarried, <12 years of education, unemployed).

Intervention.  —Nurses made an average of 7 (range, 0-18) home visits during pregnancy and 26 (range, 0-71) visits from birth to the children's second birthdays.

Main Outcome Measures.  —Pregnancy-induced hypertension, preterm delivery, low birth weight, children's injuries, ingestions, and immunizations abstracted from medical records; mothers' reports of children's behavioral problems; tests of children's mental development; mothers' reports of subsequent pregnancy, educational achievement, and labor-force participation; and use of welfare derived from state records.

Main Results.  —In contrast to counterparts assigned to the comparison condition, fewer women visited by nurses during pregnancy had pregnancy-induced hypertension (13% vs 20%; P=.009). During the first 2 years after delivery, women visited by nurses during pregnancy and the first 2 years of the child's life had fewer health care encounters for children in which injuries or ingestions were detected (0.43 vs 0.55; P=.05); days that children were hospitalized with injuries or ingestions (0.03 vs 0.16; P<.001); and second pregnancies (36% vs 47%; P=.006). There were no program effects on preterm delivery or low birth weight; children's immunization rates, mental development, or behavioral problems; or mothers' education and employment.

Conclusion.  —This program of home visitation by nurses can reduce pregnancyinduced hypertension, childhood injuries, and subsequent pregnancies among low-income women with no previous live births.

Add or change institution