This project aims to test a novel, intensive, home visitation program for first time pregnant youth and their infants living in poor urban areas of Sao Paulo, Brazil. This program will focus on improving women’s prenatal health as well as parents’ competencies in managing their lives and parental care. Ultimately, the goal of this study is to mitigate the harmful effects of toxic stress which affect the developing brain during pregnancy and infancy and thus prevent the occurrence of future mental health issues. Both socio-cultural variables as well as the status of this developing country’s health system were taken into consideration when tailoring this program.
The effects of the program will be assessed during the first 6 months of life, with standard measures of child development and mother-child interaction. In addition, repeated neurophysiological measures will be collected from infants to investigate how the intervention “gets under the skin”, i.e., how it affects biological systems to promote healthy development. For that purpose, the Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience will be a partner in using electroencephalograms (EEG) as an outcome measure, not only to look at the effects of the intervention, but also to give a better understand of these infants’ development.