A Controlled Experiment in Prenatal Enrichment with 684 Families in Caracas, Venezuela: Results to Age Six
Based on systematic measurement of experimental and control group participants from birth to age six, the authors conclude that a program of prenatal intervention beginning in the fifth prenatal month produces significant improvement in newborns, their mothers, and in family solidarity. All the parents in this study lived in poor ghettos of Caracas. Annual measurements reveal that the infants receiving the extra care and attention maintained a consistent lead in development throughout the six-year testing period. Because of these positive findings, the government has begun to implement the program in its maternity centers throughout the country.
ABOUT THIS PAPER: A preliminary report on the present work was published in this Journal, volume 4(2), 1989. Findings from the first three years were published in Thomas Blum (Ed.), Prenatal Perception, Learning and Bonding (Berlin and Hong Kong: Leonardo, 1993), followed by other technical reports of partial results in 1994 and 1995, published by the CEDIHAC research center in Caracas. The training manuals and booklets for parents have not been translated into English. This report makes available for the first time a complete overview and test results for the six-year study, the largest experimental study of prenatal enrichment to date.
Beatriz Manrique is a mother of four, grandmother of six, and for over 30 years has been a child and family psychotherapist and university professor of psychology in Caracas, Venezuela. In 1995 she won the Thomas R. Verny Prize for Outstanding Contributions to Pre- and Perinatal Psychology and Health. Her work touched a generation of babies when she directed Project Family (1979-1984) under the sponsorship of the national Ministry for Development of Intelligence, teaching new parents to stimulate their children from birth to three years of age. Building on the findings of this study, she created the new program of stimulation reported here, commencing in the fifth month of pregnancy and extending to age six. The authors collaborating on this report were team psychologists, advisors on statistics and research methodology, and an administrative assistant. The project was privately funded from many sources.
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