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Early Pediatric Interventions Can Prevent Behavior Problems in Young Children

​Disparities between children raised in poverty and their peers arise early and widen as children progress through school, placing them at risk of a lifetime of missed opportunities and lowered expectations. A new study, "Promotion of Positive Parenting and Prevention of Socioemotional Disparities" in the February 2016 issue of Pediatrics (published online Jan. 27) indicates that interventions in pediatric primary care at very early ages can have a positive impact. The randomized controlled trial divided families into treatment categories and followed the children from age 6 months to 3 years. Toddlers in the Video Interaction Project met with interventionists who facilitated play, shared reading and daily routines; parents of toddlers in the Building Blocks group received a brochure and resources by mail. While the Building Blocks children showed some benefits compared to the control, those in the Video Interaction Project group scored higher on imitation/play and attention and lower on separation distress, hyperactivity and externalizing problems. For the highest risk families, hyperactivity was reduced by more than half. The study shows that pediatric primary care interventions can play an important role in helping reduce poverty-related disparities in school readiness, its authors said, and its findings support expansion of these low-cost interventions to prevent socioemotional problems.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit or follow us at @AmerAcadPeds

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