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Report Affirms Benefits of Early Interventions

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Children of mothers with low I.Q. scores benefit significantly from early-intervention programs, a new report concludes.

The study joins a growing body of research that shows that early-intervention services help improve the intellectual and educational outcomes of at-risk children later in life.

The report, slated for release last Friday by the National Health/Education Consortium, synthesizes findings from three studies on the effects of such programs on young children.

"We learned from our earlier studies that early intervention is beneficial to the intellectual and academic performance of children who are born healthy but live in families with limited resources,'' said Craig T. Ramey, the director of psychology and pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who wrote the report with Sharon Landesman Ramey.

"However,'' Mr. Ramey added, "we now know who benefits the most and that prenatal and early-educational interventions can have long-lasting benefits for children traditionally thought of as doomed.''

The researchers noted, for example, that one study of 86 children born to mothers with low I.Q. scores found that the incidence of mental retardation was reduced markedly through early intervention.

In that study, the children were divided into two groups--a control group that received additional health and social services and an experimental group that received those interventions as well as five-day-a-week educational services at a center.

By age 3, the researchers found, all but one of the children in the control group--and none in the intervention group--had I.Q. scores in the mentally retarded or borderline intelligence range.

Years later, the researchers found that, compared with the control group, about half as many children in the experimental group had received a failing grade in school.

The report also found that the most effective programs combined center-based educational services with home visits from professionals who taught mothers how to stimulate their children's development.

Information on the report is available from the National Commission to Prevent Infant Mortality, Switzer Building, Room 2014, 330 C St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20201.--D.V.

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