Infant Health and Development Program

Categories

Categories associated with best practice:

  • Health Equity
  • Individual
  • Organization
  • Infancy (ages 0-2) icon
  • Young Adult (ages 19-24) icon
  • Adult (ages 25-64) icon
  • Best Practices
  • daycare
  • Health Care Setting
  • Home
  • Maternal and Infant Health
  • Mental Health Icon 2

Overview

The Infant Health and Development Program (IHDP) was designed to reduce the developmental and health problems of low birth weight (2500 grams or less), premature infants (born after 37 or fewer weeks of gestation). Between birth of a premature child and the age of three, infants and their families receive medical, developmental and social assessments, and referrals for services such as health care, as well as more comprehensive services such as home visits, enrollment in a child development center and parent group meetings. During home visits, parents are provided with information on their child’s health and development. They are also taught a series of games and activities to use to promote their child’s cognitive, language and social development, and they are helped to manage self-identified problems. Beginning at age 12 months, children attend child development centers for five days per week. The curriculum was designed to match the activities that parents were taught to carry out with their children during home visits. The last component is parent groups, which begin meeting when infants are 12 months old. Parents meet every two months and are provided with information on such topics as health, safety, and raising children.

Experimental evaluations of IHDP showed that the program positively impacted cognitive, motor and behavioural skills in infants. These impacts were significantly greater, and particularly long lasting, for those infants who had been born to the most at-risk families and who were at the “heavier” side of the low birth weight range. Additional positive impacts included higher employment for mothers during the three years of the program, higher infant resilience, less maternal stress, and fewer reported symptoms of depression in mothers.

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