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Health Capsules
October 2007
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Early Childhood Program Shows Benefits

A unique early education program seems to help poor children succeed later in life, a new study reports. Those who graduated from the program in 2nd or 3rd grade were more likely to later attend college and have a full-time job as young adults. They were also less likely to be on welfare or other public assistance.

The program—called Child-Parent Centers (CPC)—focused on reading, math, field trips and parent involvement. It was created in 1967 in the Chicago Public School System and is still operating with federal funding. The program provides educational and family support to low-income children between 3 and 9 years of age.

To see whether the CPCs have lasting benefits, NIH-funded scientists studied about 1,000 people who had enrolled in the program in the mid-1980s. About 93% of the children were African American, and about 7% were Hispanic. The scientists compared the CPC graduates with about 500 similar children who attended different early childhood education programs.

CPC seemed to have lasting benefits, even for children who finished only part of the program. For instance, by age 24, children who attended only the pre-school program had lower rates of depression, felony arrests and incarceration than children who hadn’t attended. They were also more likely to enroll in 4-year colleges and have health insurance.

“These results strongly suggest that comprehensive early education programs can have benefits well into adult life,” said Dr. Duane Alexander, director of NIH’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. “A comparatively small investment early in life is associated with gains in education, economic standing, mental health and other areas.”

  Seeking Health Information

Where do you turn when you need general health information? According to a recent study, a growing number of Americans are looking first to the Internet. We’re also getting more comfortable communicating with healthcare providers online. Over a 2-year period, the number of people who had e-mailed questions to their providers or set up appointments through a web site increased from 7% to 10%.

The findings come from the Health Information National Trends Survey, which is funded by NIH’s National Cancer Institute. The survey is designed to see how people use health information and how it affects their knowledge, attitudes and behavior over time. The survey began in 2003 with more than 6,300 people responding to telephone queries. More than 5,500 participated in 2005. Additional surveys will be conducted every other year.

Between 2003 and 2005, the public voiced growing confidence in health information received from doctors and other health professionals. Healthcare providers were increasingly preferred over other sources of medical information, including friends and family, printed materials and the Internet.

While we became less trusting of online health information, more of us were surfing the Internet for health information in 2005 than in 2003. The study found that younger or more educated people were more likely to search the Internet for health information.

If you’re looking for health information online, start with credible sources like NIH’s own health pages, which have been reviewed by NIH scientists for accuracy.

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From NIH’s National Library of Medicine.

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