Nurse Visitations May Improve Girls' Future Behavior

TUESDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- New research suggests that low-income mothers who were visited by nurses before the birth and during the infancy of their female child could reduce the chances that the child will get in trouble with the law by age 19.

The findings "emphasize the need to direct more scientific attention to girls in observational and interventional research on criminal behavior and delinquency," write the authors of a study in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

The Cornell University researchers examined the experiences of 19-year-olds whose mothers were enrolled in the Nurse-Family Partnership program in Elmira, N.Y. Mothers, many of them young, unmarried and poor, took part in the program, which sometimes sent nurses to their homes during and after pregnancy.

Of the 310 girls, those whose mothers received visits during pregnancy and infancy were less likely than others to have been arrested and convicted of crimes. There wasn't a difference in arrest rates for boys.

"Overall, these findings suggest that the Nurse-Family Partnership program has the potential to produce lasting changes in criminal offending trajectories, early childbearing and economic outcomes for girls born to low-resource mothers," the authors wrote.

-- Randy Dotinga

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SOURCE: American Medical Association, news release, Jan. 4, 2010