The Infant Health and Development Program
An Early Intervention Program for Low Birth Weight Premature Infants

Craig T. Ramey, PhD, Donna M. Bryant, PhD, Joseph Sparling, PhD & Barbara H. Wasik, PhD

Program Summary
The Infant Health and Development Program (IHDP) was developed to enhance the cognitive, behavioral, and health status of low birth weight (LBW), premature infants. Between birth of a premature child and the age of three, program families received: 1) pediatric follow-up, 2) home visits, 3) parent support groups, and 4) a systematic educational program provided in specialized child developmental centers.

The purpose of this early intervention program is to prevent later developmental problems. As such the child is the primary intervention target, although a parent (or other primary caregiver) is an essential participant in various program components. The IHDP curriculum is both center and home-based and includes activities to foster child functioning and enhance primary care giver child-rearing skills. At the end of the program, an experimental evaluation showed that IHDP had positively impacted cognitive and motor skills in participating children, particularly those from the most at-risk families and those who had been born at the "heavier" side of the low birth weight range (2001 to 2500 grams).
Target Population
Low birth weight and/or premature infants
Low socioeconomic status
Risk factors during pregnancy or birth
At risk for developmental delay or disorder

Evaluation Summary
At 36 months of age LBW premature infants who attended IHDP showed improved cognitive development with increased IQ scores (LLBW group averaged a 6.6 point IQ increase and the HLBW averaged a 13.2 IQ increase) and decreased behavior problem scores in the intervention group relative to the pediatric follow-up group, or control condition. There were higher morbidity scores reported in the lighter born children in the intervention group than for the lighter-born children in the control group. There were no significant differences in the heavier groups.

Staffing Requirement/Training
In the original implementation an interdisciplinary team comprised of qualified and specially trained educational, health and social work professional staff delivered the IHDP. An educational director with a Master's or Doctorate degree oversaw the home visitation staff and the teachers working in the child development center.

The program developers recommended either two pediatric nurses or one pediatric nurse and one social worker to carry out the pediatric follow-up or initial phase of the program. College graduates who had prior experience in home visiting conducted the home visitation component. All staff attended pre-service training focused on general home visiting skills and specific skills to facilitate problem-solving methods for parents.

The child development center was staffed with early childhood teachers who had at least a bachelor's degree in early childhood education and assistant teachers with at least one year of experience working with infants. Teachers' attended a pre-service workshop including health safety, nutrition and emergency procedures, as well as a broad overview of the IHDP and its components. In addition, teachers spent 40 hours of individual preparation activities and training before the opening of the child development center. Both the home visitors and teachers attended a three day pre-service training and on-going annual workshops to reinforce specific IHDP teaching and clinical skills.

Infant and/or Child Developmental Outcomes
Program Core Components
Early childhood education
Child development center
Health and development monitoring
Home visits
Parent education and support
Parent involvement/enriched care giving
Curriculum Used
Activities/games for child functioning
Enriched care giving/parent involvement
Parent education and support
Home visiting

Direct Participants
Child and parent together

Child's Age at Program Start
Pre-birth to 12 months

25 - 36 months

The Program Package includes:

  • Program Materials Binder. This binder contains program materials for each of the four components of the IHDP including: 1) Home Visitation, 2) Child Development Center, 3) Parent Support Groups, and 4) Pediatric Follow-Up. In addition, a program summary provides a general overview of the program and how IHDP has demonstrated positive impacts on child developmental outcomes.
  • The IHDP Home Visitation User's Manual. This manual contains information that will assist program directors, supervisors, and trainers with ensuring quality and fidelity in the implementation of the home visitation component of IHDP.
  • Home Visitor Guide for Implementing the Infant Health and Development Program. This manual is a training and education guide for use by home visitors implementing the program.
  • The Creative Curriculum® LearningGames® by Joseph Sparling and Isabelle Lewis. A set of three books used to implement the LearningGames® as part of the home visitation and child development center components of IHDP: Birth ??? 12 Months; 12 ??? 24 Months; 24 ??? 36 Months.
  • Abecedarian: The Ideas, the Approach, and the Findings. This book provides additional resources for implementing the home visitation and child development center components of IHDP.
  • Early Intervention Evidence-Based Practice Resource Guide. This USB drive features an interactive, easy-to-use tool that consists of practical tips and resources designed to assist professionals and organizations to select, adopt, and implement early intervention evidence-based practices to successfully promote child development and well-being.
  • Telephone technical support on implementation for 1 year
  • .

Infant Health and Development Program Package
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Infant Health and Development Program Summary
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