The cognitive development of children of adolescent mothers has often been considered to be at risk. The purpose of this meta-analysis is to examine whether early intervention could help foster more positive cognitive development in the 0- to 4-year-old children of adolescent mothers. Twenty-two studies were reviewed, involving 29 different intervention strategies and 3577 participants.
An overall effect size (corrected for publication bias) of d = .24 was found (95% CI .11, .36). Intervention strategies that focused specifically on the quality of parent-child interaction (d = .89; 95%CI .36, 1.43) or that included parent-child interaction as an important target of intervention (d = .53; 95%CI .34, .73) yielded greater effect sizes than those that emphasized maternal support and education (d = .23; 95% CI .12, .34). Intervention that was delivered in groups (d = .56; 95% CI .36, .74) yielded greater effectiveness than dyadic intervention (d = .27; 95% CI .14, .39). Intervention delivered by trained professionals (d = .39; 95% CI .22, .56) was more effective than that delivered by paraprofessionals (d = .20; 95% CI -.02, .61).
Older studies (slope = -.015) and those that involved smaller numbers of participants (slope = -.0008) also yielded greater effect sizes. There was also a marginal tendency for shorter intervention strategies (slope = -.002), and those that involved younger children (slope = -.005) and mothers (slope = -.074) to show greater effects.
Discussion focuses on the developmental and practical implications of these results.
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