Project Lead(s): Leonid Lecca
More than 200 million children worldwide are at risk for lost developmental potential, but very few children are screened or treated for neurodevelopmental delays.
Research shows that early, stimulating, responsive parent-child interactions build young neuronal density and can buffer the effects of poverty, but distributing this knowledge to vulnerable families has been a challenge.
The Universal Baby team at Socios En Salud (Partners In Health, Peru) sought to test whether six videos – designed to engage the primary caregiver in affectionate interactions – could significantly improve the quality of mother-child interaction.
The project involved mothers of children between the ages of 10 and 18 months in Carabayllo, Peru, with 12 sessions delivered over a period of three months.
The Peru-based communications team was trained by U.S.-based collaborators to collect naturalistic footage of mothers and children interacting in their homes in Carabayllo, identify key moments, edit footage into didactic excerpts (including animation about brain development) and produce six educational Universal Baby clips of eight to 12 minutes each.
Community Health Workers (CHWs) were trained by project staff to incorporate the videos into 12 weekly ‘healthy child’ group sessions. Videos were delivered by CHWs to 18 mothers as a bi-weekly component to group visits, while an additional 20 mothers received the healthy child visits only.
Mother-child interaction was assessed at baseline and within one month of the final session, using PICCOLO (Parenting Interactions with Children: Checklist of Observations Linked to Outcomes) scores for parenting behaviours and HOME (Home Observation Measurement of the Environment) global scores, and sub-scores of involvement and responsivity.
Results indicate that Universal Baby videos can be created successfully in-country with cross-country collaboration and that trained CHWs are able to incorporate Universal Baby videos seamlessly into a broader health curriculum.
Data from the project is still being analyzed but preliminary review suggests that Universal Baby videos were well-received by caregivers and positively impacted caregiver-child interactions. Publication preparation is in process.
Socios en Salud has received $2 million in funding from the Municipality of Carabayllo and Grand Challenges Canada Saving Brains for the Transition To Scale (TTS) project ‘Community-based Early Stimulation Coaching and Social Support for Children 6–24 months in Carabayllo, Peru’ (CASITA).
Over a period of three years, the project will involve 3,000 children, aged 6 to 24 months and identified as at risk for neurodevelopmental delay, with the Universal Baby videos being shown to mothers as part of this project.
The Universal Baby team is interested in identifying how to achieve optimal benefits for families while reaching the most caregivers in culturally and economically isolated areas.
The team hopes to test Universal Baby’s impact in various viewer scenarios (e.g., waiting rooms, public spaces, private cell phone networks, early child stimulation sessions, home visits) and in a variety of provinces of Peru.