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Early intervention and child physical health: Evidence from a Dublin-based randomized controlled trial

Author

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  • Doyle, Orla
  • Fitzpatrick, Nick
  • Lovett, Judy
  • Rawdon, Caroline

Abstract

This article investigates the impact of an early intervention program, which experimentally modifies the parenting and home environment of disadvantaged families, on child physical health in the first 3 years of life. We recruited and randomized 233 (115 intervention, 118 control) pregnant women from a socioeconomically disadvantaged community in Dublin, Ireland into an intervention or control group. The treatment includes regular home visits commencing antenatally and an additional parenting course commencing at 2 years. Maternal reports of child health are assessed at 6, 12, 18, 24, and 36 months. Treatment effects are estimated using permutation testing to account for small sample size, inverse probability weighting to account for differential attrition, and both the stepdown procedure and an indices approach to account for multiple hypothesis testing. Following adjustment for multiple testing and attrition, we observe a positive and statistically significant main treatment effect for wheezing/asthma. The intervention group are 15.5 percentage points (pp) less likely to require medical attention for wheezing/asthma compared to the control group. Subgroup analysis reveals more statistically significant adjusted treatment effects for boys than girls regarding fewer health problems (d=0.63), accidents (23.9pp), and chest infections (22.8–37.9pp). Our results suggest that a community-based home visiting program may have favorable impacts on early health conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Doyle, Orla & Fitzpatrick, Nick & Lovett, Judy & Rawdon, Caroline, 2015. "Early intervention and child physical health: Evidence from a Dublin-based randomized controlled trial," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 19(C), pages 224-245.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:19:y:2015:i:c:p:224-245
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ehb.2015.09.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Sandner, Malte & Cornelissen, Thomas & Jungmann, Tanja & Herrmann, Peggy, 2018. "Evaluating the effects of a targeted home visiting program on maternal and child health outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 269-283.
    2. Orla Doyle, 2017. "The First 2,000 Days and Child Skills: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment of Home Visiting," Working Papers 201715, School of Economics, University College Dublin.
    3. repec:eee:ehbiol:v:26:y:2017:i:c:p:164-173 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:eee:labeco:v:54:y:2018:i:c:p:152-171 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Randomized controlled trial; Home visiting; Child physical health; Early intervention;

    JEL classification:

    • C12 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Hypothesis Testing: General
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I14 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Inequality

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