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Being a first-time parent can often be a stressful experience. The uncertainty about what is or is not a medical concern often causes parents stress and greatly impacts their finances. A new study has found that a home visit program for new parents helped reduce their use of medical services for their infants, and this in turn helped out parents in other ways.
The study, based in New Mexico (47.03% Latino population), included 244 first-time parents who were randomly assigned to either a control group that didn’t get any additional help or a group enrolled in a program where healthcare workers and parent educators made home visits during the first year of their child’s life.
Typically, an infant is expected to have seven well-child visits during the first year, according to American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendations.
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As part of the study, parents not in the home visit group were a third less likely to take their newborns to the emergency room and were 41% less likely to take them to their primary care doctor nine or more times during the first year.
“Our findings suggest that it is possible to prevent costly health care use during the first year of a child’s life by using a home visiting model that does not rely exclusively on nurses,” said study lead author Rebecca Kilburn, a senior economist with the nonprofit research organization RAND Corp. “We also found the program benefited both those families who were at risk for problems, as well as those who had no risk factors.”
Home visit programs typically target new mothers with certain risk factors. These risk factors include being a teenager or having a low income. The study, however, found that this type of program also benefited infants of parents not considered at-risk.
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