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Early Childhood Interventions Greatly Improve Later Health

Findings particularly strong among poor males participating in early childhood interventions

FRIDAY, April 4, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Early childhood interventions substantially improve health into adulthood, according to a study published in the March 28 issue of Science.

Frances Campbell, Ph.D., from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues evaluated the long-term health effects of one of the oldest and most heavily cited early childhood interventions (Carolina Abecedarian Project) with long-term follow-up of biomedical data.

The researchers found that disadvantaged children randomly assigned to treatment had significantly lower prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in their mid-30s. This evidence was particularly strong for males (mean systolic blood pressure for control males, 143 mm Hg, versus 126 mm Hg among treated males). Similarly, one in four males in the control group had metabolic syndrome, compared to none in the treatment group.

"Our evidence shows the potential of early life interventions for preventing disease and promoting health," the authors write.

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