Background Home visiting is supported as a way to improve child health and development. Home visiting has been usually provided by nurses or community health workers (CHWs). Few studies compared the child health advantages of a nurse–CHW team approach over nurse prenatal and postnatal home visiting.
Methods A randomized trial was conducted with Medicaid-insured pregnant women in Kent County, Michigan. Pregnant women were assigned to a team intervention including nurse–CHW home visitation, or standard community care (CC) including nurse home visitation. Morbidity was assessed in 530 infants over their first 12 months of life from medical claims and reported by the mother.
Results There were no differences in overall child health between the nurse–CHW intervention and the CC arm over the first year of life. There were fewer mother-reported asthma/wheezing/croup diagnostics in the team intervention group among infants whose mothers have low psychosocial resources (13% vs. 27%, P = 0.01; adjusted OR = 0.4, P = 0.01). There were no differences in diagnosed asthma/wheezing/croup documented by medical claims. There were no differences in immunizations, hospitalizations and ear infections.
Conclusions There was no strong evidence that infant health was improved by the addition of CHWs to a programme of CC that included nurse home visitation. Targeting such interventions at common health problems of infancy and childhood or at diagnosed chronic conditions may prove more successful.