Intergenerational Persistence of Treatment Effects

There are 15 million children in the United States living in families below the poverty line who are at risk for serious health problems ranging from chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, to mental health problems, such as depression and substance use disorders. Many childhood interventions target low-income and high-risk children, offering evidence that some early interventions improve adult health and well being. However, little is known about whether, and how, childhood intervention benefits span generations.

This study investigates whether children who benefited from early interventions matured into stable, nurturing parents and, subsequently, have children with fewer health problems, educational challenges, and emotional difficulties. Utilizing participant data from two longstanding studies, the Fast Track randomized control trial and the Great Smoky Mountains Study, the project examines childhood intervention influence on future parenting and intervention benefit transmission from one generation to the next.

 Analyses draws on new data collected from parent surveys, low- cost daily virtual assessments of parents and children and high-quality education and birth records of the offspring. By mapping childhood intervention transference across generations, the study’s findings inform prevention efforts, developmental science and public policy.

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