Home Visits by Nurse May Help Reduce Mortality in Moms, Children

Medical nurse (Credit: phalinn/flickr)
Medical nurse (Credit: phalinn/flickr)

Main Point:

Women who had prenatal and infant/toddler nurse visits at home were less likely to die than women who did not and children whose mothers were visited by nurses were less likely to have died by age 20 from preventable causes.

Published in:

JAMA Pediatrics


David L. Olds, Ph.D., of the University of Colorado, Aurora, and colleagues.


Since 1990, the authors have been conducting a randomized clinical trial of a program of prenatal and infant/toddler home visits by nurses for very low-income, largely black mothers, having their first child.

How the Study Was Conducted:

The study assigned 1,138 mothers to 1 of 4 treatment groups: treatment 1 (transportation for prenatal care, n=166), treatment 2 (transportation plus developmental screening for infants and toddlers, n=514), treatment 3 (transportation plus prenatal/postnatal home visits, n=230), and treatment 4 (transportation, screening, and prenatal, postpartum, and infant/toddler home visits through age 2 years, n=228). The authors analyzed all cause-mortality in mothers and preventable-cause mortality, including sudden infant death syndrome, unintentional injury and homicide, in children. The study period stretched from 1990 to 2011. The goal of the nurses is to improve maternal and child health by helping to support women’s motivations to protect their children and themselves.


The average 21-year maternal all-cause mortality rate was 3.7 percent in the combined control group (treatments 1 and 2), 0.4 percent in treatment 3, and 2.2 percent in treatment 4. When the children were 20 years of age, the preventable-cause child mortality rate was 1.6 percent in treatment 2 and 0 percent in treatment 4.


“These findings should be replicated in well-powered trials with populations at very high levels of familial and neighborhood risk.”


David L. Olds PhD, Harriet Kitzman RN, PhD, Michael D. Knudtson MS, Elizabeth Anson MS, Joyce A. Smith PhD, Robert Cole PhD. Effect of Home Visiting by Nurses on Maternal and Child Mortality: Results of a 2-Decade Follow-up of a Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatr. 2014; 168(9):-. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.472

Editor’s Note:

Authors made conflict of interest disclosures. The current phase of this research was supported with funding from the National Institute of Drug Abuse. Please see article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, etc.

Media Advisory:

To contact author David L. Olds, Ph.D., call Mark Couch at 303-724-5377 or email mark.couch@ucdenver.edu


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