Economist James Heckman and colleagues conducted a new analysis of the Abecedarian Project, one of the oldest and most cited U.S. early childhood (infancy through age 5) intervention programs. Their research report, published on March 27th, 2014 in Science, shows positive effects on adult heath.
The researchers collected recent data to find that children who were assigned to the early educational intervention group in the Abecedarian Project have significantly better health now (in their mid-30s) than those in the control group. The findings show the potential of quality early childhood programs that incorporate health and nutrition to prevent disease and promote adult health.
The policy recommendations in the report include the following:
- Recognize that quality, birth-to-five early childhood development programs can and should be used to prevent adult chronic disease.
- Make quality early childhood development an integral part of ongoing healthcare reform, particularly among families receiving Medicaid and CHIP.
- Understand that quality early childhood programs start with effective perinatal care for mothers and begin at birth for children.
- Integrate early health and nutrition into early childhood development programs. Early health is critical for later adult health outcomes.
To download a 2-page summary of the findings and their implications, view a two minute video on the topic, or to read the full report, visit the Heckman website.