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April 2009Vol. 10, No. 3Medically At-Risk Infants Benefit From Enhanced Home Visitation

Infants at medical risk because of preterm births or other conditions may be at increased risk for abuse or neglect. A recent article published in Developmental Psychology describes a cognitively based home visitation program that reduced the incidence of harsh parenting practices for medically at-risk infants.

In the study, researchers Daphne Blunt Bugental and Alex Schwartz used the Healthy Start home visitation model, with and without an additional cognitive component. Families were referred to the study based on how their infant's medical risk presented and then were assigned to either the standard Healthy Start program or the enhanced program. In the enhanced intervention, specially trained home visitors taught the mothers problem-solving skills to develop their sense of competence and control. After 1 year, the enhanced program was found to result in fewer incidents of corporal punishment, greater safety maintenance in the home, and fewer reported child injuries, compared to the standard program and to a control group that received no intervention.

The study, "A Cognitive Approach to Child Maltreatment Prevention Among Medically At-Risk Infants," is published in Developmental Psychology, Vol. 45(1), and is available for purchase online: