Purpose: To compare effects of an early intervention program (EIP) of intense home visitation by public health nurses (PHNs) with effects of traditional public health nursing care (TPHN) on infant health and selected maternal outcomes of adolescent mothers. Methods: EIP adolescents (N = 102) received preparation-for-motherhood classes and individual home visits (from pregnancy through 1 year postpartum) from PHNs employed in a county health department. Participants were predominantly Latina (64%) and African-American (11%) and from impoverished backgrounds. Infant health outcomes were determined based on medical record data; interviews and standardized questionnaires evaluated other program effects (e.g., maternal educational achievement and psychological status). Data were analyzed using Chi-square and repeated measures ANOVA. Results: Infants of EIP mothers experienced significantly fewer total days (n = 74) and actual episodes (n = 14) of hospitalization during the first year of life than those receiving TPHN (n = 154, n = 24, respectively). Similarly, positive program effects were found for immunization rates. There were no group differences in emergency room visits or repeat pregnancy rates. Alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana use significantly increased from pregnancy through 1 year postpartum in both groups but remained markedly lower than rates prior to pregnancy (lifetime rates). Conclusions: These findings demonstrate the positive effects of a PHN home visitation program on health outcomes for children of adolescent mothers. Days of infant hospitalization were substantially reduced and immunization rates increased during the first year of life for children of EIP mothers. Greater efforts need to be directed toward preventing repeat pregnancy and return to substance use following childbirth in at-risk adolescent mothers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health