Starting Early Intervention in the NICU
The team at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital’s Drs. Rouben and Violet Jiji Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) offers an innovative program to connect premature infants at high risk for various developmental disabilities to early intervention services that assist with child development.
The Maryland’s Premature Infant Developmental Enrichment (PRIDE) program is a unique collaborative endeavor between the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Baltimore Infants and Toddlers Program. Maryland’s PRIDE provides early intervention referral, eligibility evaluation, and service coordination for infants who receive care in the Jiji NICU and NICU Follow-Up Program.
Brenda Hussey-Gardner, PhD, MPH, professor of pediatrics, led a study from 1999 to 2020 comparing premature infants of low-income families who participated in the Baltimore Infants and Toddlers Program with and without Maryland’s PRIDE. A total of 956 premature infants who received medical assistance were included in the study. Findings indicate that Maryland’s PRIDE offers many advantages to preterm infants and their families. Children are referred into early intervention services at a younger age, have a longer length of stay in the program, and less parent withdrawal. PRIDE not only streamlines the process, which helps to expedite access to early intervention services, but also keeps families from leaving the program.
Dr. Hussey-Gardner and others at the UM Children’s Hospital have worked with NICU leaders in Maryland, Massachusetts, and Mississippi to help initiate similar programs in their respective hospitals.