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Pediatrics. 2001 Jan;107(1):130-4.

The impact of a clinic-based literacy intervention on language development in inner-city preschool children.

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Department of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine and New York, New York, USA.



To determine the effect of a clinic-based literacy intervention on the language development of preschool children.


A convenience sample of families presenting to 2 urban pediatric clinics for well-child care met the following criteria: the family was Latino or black and English- or Spanish-speaking; the child was 2 to 5.9 years old, with no neurodevelopmental disability, at a gestational age of 34 weeks or more, and not attending kindergarten. Participants at the first clinic (intervention group) were exposed to a literacy support program, based on Reach Out and Read (ROR), during the previous 3 years. At the second clinic (comparison group), a similar program started 3 months before the study. Parent-child reading activities were measured using the READ Subscale of the StimQ. Language development was measured using the One-Word Expressive and Receptive Picture Vocabulary Tests, and was performed in the child's primary language.


A total of 122 study participants (49 interventions and 73 comparisons) met inclusion criteria and completed all measures. Intervention and comparison families were similar for most sociodemographic variables. Intervention families reported reading together with their children approximately 1 more day per week. Intensity of exposure to ROR (measured by total number of contacts with the program) was associated with increased parent-child reading activities, as measured by the StimQ-Read Subscale (r = 0.20). Intervention children had higher receptive language (mean: 94.5 vs 84.8) and expressive language (mean: 84.3 vs 81.6). After adjusting for potential confounders in a multiple regression analysis, intervention status was associated with an 8.6-point increase (95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.3, 14.0) in receptive language (semipartial correlation [SR]coefficient = 0.27), and a 4.3-point increase (95% CI: 0.04, 8.6) in expressive language (SR = 0.17). In a similar multiple regression, each contact with ROR was associated with an adjusted mean 0.4-point increase (95% CI: 0.1, 0.6) in receptive score, and an adjusted mean 0.21-point increase (95% CI: 0. 02, 0.4) in expressive score.


ROR is an important intervention, promoting parental literacy support and enhancing language development in impoverished preschool children. Integration of literacy promoting interventions such as these into routine pediatric health care for underserved populations can be recommended.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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