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In-Home Visit Reduces Drug Use And Depression In Pregnant Teens

Update Date: Oct 10, 2014 09:10 AM EDT

Intensive parenting and health education provided in homes of pregnant American Indian teens reduced the mothers' illegal drug use, depression and behavior problems, according to a new study. 

It also set their young children on track to meet behavioral and emotional milestones they may have otherwise missed, the press release added.

The research also suggested that employing local community health educators instead of more formally educated nurses to counsel young at-risk mothers could be cost effective. The step could also provide badly needed jobs to high school graduates from the same impoverished communities. 

"For years in public health we have been working on immunizations and other medical interventions to set the course for the health of disadvantaged children, and we have turned the tide," said the study's lead author Allison Barlow, MPH, PhD, associate director of the Center for American Indian Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in the press release. 

"Now the burden is in multi-generational behavioral health problems, the substance abuse, depression and domestic violence that are transferred from parents to children. This intervention can help us break that cycle of despair."

The study was conducted in four American Indian communities in Southwest, but according to researchers, its success could likely be replicated in other low-income populations around the United States. 

The findings of the study are published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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