Baby's First Years
The first study in the United States to assess the impact of poverty reduction on family life and infant and toddlers’ cognitive, emotional, and brain development
Baby's First Years publishes first findings:
Monthly cash support to families impacts infant brain activity
Our new study shows that an anti-poverty intervention had a direct impact on children’s brain development. After one year, infants of mothers in low-income households receiving $333 in monthly cash support were more likely to show faster brain activity, in a pattern associated with learning and development at later ages. Read more here.
Baby’s First Years is a pathbreaking study of the causal impact of monthly, unconditional cash gifts to low-income mothers and their children in the first four years of the child’s life. The gifts are funded through charitable foundations. The study will identify whether reducing poverty can affect early childhood development and the family processes that support children’s development.
Information for participants
about the cash gift and card can
be found here.
Learn more about the researchers leading the project.
Recruitment completed in June 2019.
Learn more about the study design and data collection here.
One thousand eligible mothers were recruited in hospitals at the time of their child’s birth across four sites — New York City, greater New Orleans, the Twin Cities, and the Omaha metropolitan area. Mothers receive a monthly unconditional cash gift of either $333/month or $20/month for the first 52 months of their child’s life. Recruitment of study participants began in May 2018 and ended in June 2019. Quantitative data is being collected just after birth and when the child reaches 12, 24, 36, and 48 months of age.
A companion qualitative study is being conducted in two of the four sites.
The qualitative study involves four waves of semi-structured interviews with a subset of mothers in two sites over the course of the study to ask about their views and experiences of the cash gifts. These data provide an opportunity to learn about how mothers describe their experiences with the cash gifts in their own words, including the meaning mothers attach to the money, how they decide to spend it, and how they think it has affected their lives.
Funded by NIH (NIH R01HD087384) and a consortium of private foundations, the study is led by an interdisciplinary group of experts in poverty and child development. These principal investigators are collaborating with a team of neuroscientists at each site who will lead the measurement of children’s brain development at 48 months of age. Click here to learn more about the researchers.