Home Visiting and the Health of Preterm Infants

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The results of home visiting programs which target medically fragile low-birth-weight preterm infants (LBWPT) have been inconsistent. We provided nurse/social worker home visits to families of LBWPT infants on a regular schedule. Teams were trained in approaches to improve the health and development of the infants. The completion of immunization series was sigmificantly higher and the infant mortality rates of the home visits childen were significanly lower compared to national and state rates. We used state Medicaid data and examined frequency of hospitalization, emergency department visits, routine and nonscheduled visits to primary care physician, and pharmacy use of the home-visited subjects compared with a propensity-matched group. The home-visited group had more routine and nonscheduled visits but no more hospitalizations or E.D. visits. Home visiting teams improved important markers of child health, including completed immunizations and mortality rate, perhaps by the careful monitoring of health status and assuring health care when needed.

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