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Early childhood investments substantially boost adult health
Campbell, Frances A., 28 March, 2014
Science, 343(6178), 1478-1485

High-quality early childhood programs have been shown to have substantial benefits in reducing crime, raising earnings, and promoting education. Much less is known about their benefits for adult health. We report on the long-term health effects of one of the oldest and most heavily cited early childhood interventions with long-term follow-up evaluated by the method of randomization: the Carolina Abecedarian Project (ABC). Using recently collected biomedical data, we find that disadvantaged children randomly assigned to treatment have significantly lower prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in their mid-30s. The evidence is especially strong for males. The mean systolic blood pressure among the control males is 143 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), whereas it is only 126 mm Hg among the treated. One in four males in the control group is affected by metabolic syndrome, whereas none in the treatment group are affected. To reach these conclusions, we address several statistical challenges. We use exact permutation tests to account for small sample sizes and conduct a parallel bootstrap confidence interval analysis to confirm the permutation analysis. We adjust inference to account for the multiple hypotheses tested and for nonrandom attrition. Our evidence shows the potential of early life interventions for preventing disease and promoting health. (author abstract)

Reports & Papers


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Making Maine work: Investment in young children = real economic development
Maine Development Foundation, January, 2012
Augusta, ME: Maine Development Foundation.

An overview of the long-term benefits of high-quality early care and education, and recommendations to improve the early care and education offerings in Maine

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Making Maine work: Investment in young children = real economic development [Executive summary]
Maine Development Foundation, January, 2012
Augusta, ME: Maine Development Foundation.

A summary of an overview of the long-term benefits of high-quality early care and education, and recommendations to improve the early care and education offerings in Maine

Executive Summary


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The short- and long-term impacts of large public early care and education programs
United States. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, March, 2014
Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.

Research consistently finds that high-quality early care and education (ECE) programs promote children's school readiness and other positive outcomes. This brief describes what's known about the short- and long-term impacts of large public (i.e., at-scale) ECE programs in the United States for children prior to kindergarten entry--including what key features of programs lead to the best outcomes, and how to sustain program benefits as children grow older. This brief does not include the many smaller ECE programs, including model or demonstration programs in the U.S. and abroad, that have also been evaluated; please see other reports for information on the short- and long-term impacts of these programs. (author abstract)

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Research Connections is supported by grant #90YE0104 from the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The contents are solely the responsibility of the National Center for Children in Poverty and the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation, the Administration for Children and Families, or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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