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Nurs Res. 2000 May-Jun;49(3):130-8.

A public health nursing early intervention program for adolescent mothers: outcomes from pregnancy through 6 weeks postpartum.

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School of Nursing, University of California, Los Angeles 90095-6919, USA.



Adolescent pregnancy and parenting remain a major public concern because of their impact on maternal-child health and on the social and economic well-being of the nation. Federal welfare reform legislation has created an urgent need for community-based nursing intervention programs to improve health and social outcomes for disadvantaged adolescent mothers and to promote their self-sufficiency.


To evaluate the effects of an early intervention program (EIP) that uses a public health nursing model on health and social outcomes of adolescent mothers and their children and on the quality of mother-child interaction.


Pregnant adolescents referred to a county health department were randomly assigned to an experimental (EIP) or control (traditional public health nursing [TPHN]) group. The sample included 121 adolescents from predominantly minority and impoverished backgrounds who were followed from pregnancy through 6 weeks postpartum. Intense and comprehensive home visitation by public health nurses and preparation-for-motherhood classes were provided to adolescents in the EIP. Health outcomes were determined on the basis of medical record data. Other measures included maternal self-report on selected behaviors, nurse interviews, and the Nursing Child Assessment Teaching Scale (NCATS).


Early findings indicate reduced premature birth and low-birth-weight (LBW) rates for young mothers receiving both forms of public health nursing care. No significant differences between groups were found for infant birth weight or type of delivery. Infants in the EIP had significantly fewer total days of birth-related hospitalization and rehospitalization than those in the TPHN group during the first 6 weeks of life (chi2(1) = 6.41; p = 0.01). Adolescents in the EIP demonstrated significantly more positive educational outcomes (e.g., lower school dropout rates) than those in the TPHN group (chi2(1) = 6.76; p < 0.009).


The early findings of this study demonstrate that pregnant adolescents benefit from both traditional and more intense public health nursing care in terms of prenatal and perinatal outcomes. The EIP was associated with decreased infant morbidity during the first 6 weeks of life and decreased maternal school dropout. Long-term outcomes for the EIP are being evaluated.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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