Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Study says nurse visits can prevent premature deaths

Posted By on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 5:25 PM

A new medical journal article says programs like the Nurse-Family Partnership may help prevent premature deaths among mothers and their first-born children living in "highly disadvantaged urban neighborhoods."

Nurse-Family Partnership is a national program, but it operates in some New York counties, including Monroe. Under the program, registered nurses make regular home visits to low-income, first-time mothers. The visits start when the women are pregnant and continue until their children are 2.

The article, which was published in the JAMA Pediatrics medical journal, explains the results from a 20-year study of low-income, primarily black women and children living in Memphis, Tennessee. The women and children in the control group did not receive at-home visits from a nurse. Among the women and children who did receive home visits, none died prematurely, says a press release from Nurse-Family Partnership and a University of Rochester article on the study.

The study looked at what it researchers called preventable deaths. For the children, that meant sudden infant death syndrome, unintentional injuries, and homicide. The mothers receiving home visits were less likely to die from causes including unintentional injuries, suicide, drug overdoses, or homicide.

The lead investigator for the study is David Olds, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado. Approximately 30 years ago, Olds developed the home visitation model that developed into Nurse-Family Partnership. Two faculty members from the University of Rochester School of Nursing co-authored the study and journal article: Harriet Kitzman, senior associate dean for research; and Robert Cole, associate professor of clinical nursing.

The Children's Agenda, a local child advocacy organization, has urged Monroe County officials to provide more funding for the local Nurse-Family Partnership program. Locally, the program serves approximately 240 families each year, says the Children's Agenda website. Local children's advocates say Nurse-Family Partnership leads to healthier mothers and children, helps low-income families become self-sufficient, and can help reduce the likelihood that children from poor neighborhoods will run afoul of the law. 

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