Psychosocial Intervention Improves the Development of Term Low-Birth-Weight Infants1

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It is estimated that 11% of births in developing counties are term low-birth-weight (LBW); however, there is limited information on the development of these infants. Our objectives were to determine the effect of psychosocial intervention on the development of LBW infants and to compare term LBW and normal-birth-weight (NBW) infants. Term LBW (n = 140) and NBW infants (n = 94) were enrolled from the main maternity hospital in Kingston, Jamaica. The LBW infants were randomly assigned to control or intervention comprising weekly home visits from birth to 8 wk and from 7 to 24 mo of age. Development was assessed at 15 and 24 mo with the Griffiths Scales. The intervention benefited the infants’ developmental quotient (DQ, P < 0.05) and performance subscale at 15 mo (P < 0.02), the hand and eye (P < 0.05) and performance subscales (P < 0.02) at 24 mo, and home environment at 12 mo. The effect of the intervention on development was mediated in part by the improvement in the home environment. The control LBW infants had significantly lower scores than the NBW in DQ and several subscales, whereas there were no significant differences between the NBW and the LBW infants after intervention. In conclusion, term LBW was associated with developmental delays, which were reduced with psychosocial intervention. J. Nutr. 134: 1417-1423, 2004.

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