Study: Home Visit Program for Infants Cuts Costs - Diverse Health

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Study: Home Visit Program for Infants Cuts Costs

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by Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Newborns enrolled in New Mexico’s home visiting program are less likely to use costly medical services than other children in their first year.

According to a new Rand Corp. study, children enrolled in the New Mexico First Born program were a third less likely to visit an emergency room than newborns in a control group, The Albuquerque Journal reported.

“We find evidence that the (First Born program) model reduced medical contact in the children’s first year of life,” the study concluded.

First Born is a privately funded program that provides in-home services to parents and children in their first year in order to promote healthy child development.

The study, published in the online edition of the journal Pediatrics, compared 138 newborns enrolled in a First Born program to 106 who were not enrolled. It found that children enrolled in the program were 41 percent less likely to make nine or more visits to a primary-care clinic than non-enrolled infants and 33 percent less likely to visit a hospital emergency room.

Rebecca Kilburn, senior economist for Rand Corp. and lead author of the study, said the First Born model was created in response to New Mexico’s nursing shortage. The home visits are not conducted by registered nurses, but instead by state-employed personnel who offer education about good-parenting practices such as immunizations, breastfeeding, well-child checkups and child safety.

Workers also help connect families to community services such as food banks and Women, Infants, and Children food and nutrition service, and helps families enroll in insurance plans.

Kilburn said Rand chose to study First Born because if offers a low-cost alternative to relying on registered nurses. First Born costs average about $3,400 a year per child, a program official estimated.

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