BACKGROUND: Children of adolescent mothers have higher rates of morbidity and unintentional injuries and hospitalizations during the first 5 years of life than do children of adult mothers. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the 2-year postbirth infant health and maternal outcomes of an early intervention program (EIP) of home visitation by public health nurses (PHNs). METHODS: In a randomized controlled trial, a sample of predominantly Latina and African American adolescent mothers was followed from pregnancy through 2 years postpartum. The experimental group (EIP, n = 56) received preparation-for-motherhood classes plus intense home visitation by PHNs from pregnancy through 1 year postbirth; the control group (TPHNC, n = 45) received traditional public health nursing care (TPHNC). Health outcomes were determined based on medical record data; other measures evaluated selected maternal behaviors, social competence, and mother-child interactions. RESULTS: The total days of non-birth-related infant hospitalizations during the first 24 months was significantly lower in the EIP (143 days) than the TPHNC group (211 days) and episodes of hospitalization were fewer; more EIP than THHNC infants were never seen in the emergency room. The EIP mothers had 15% fewer repeat pregnancies in the first 2 years postbirth than TPHNC mothers. The TPHNC mothers significantly increased marijuana use over time, whereas EIP mothers did not. CONCLUSIONS: The EIP improved in selected areas of infant and maternal health, and these improvements were sustained for a period of 1 year following program termination. These findings have important implications for healthcare services.
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