Effects of a prekindergarten educational intervention on adult health: 37-year follow-up results of a randomized controlled trial

Am J Public Health. 2009 Aug;99(8):1431-7. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2008.148353. Epub 2009 Jun 18.


Objectives: We used 37 years of follow-up data from a randomized controlled trial to explore the linkage between an early educational intervention and adult health.

Methods: We analyzed data from the High/Scope Perry Preschool Program (PPP), an early school-based intervention in which 123 children were randomized to a prekindergarten education group or a control group. In addition to exploring the effects of the program on health behavioral risk factors and health outcomes, we examined the extent to which educational attainment, income, family environment, and health insurance access mediated the relationship between randomization to PPP and behavioral and health outcomes.

Results: The PPP led to improvements in educational attainment, health insurance, income, and family environment Improvements in these domains, in turn, lead to improvements in an array of behavioral risk factors and health (P = .01). However, despite these reductions in behavioral risk factors, participants did not exhibit any overall improvement in physical health outcomes by the age of 40 years.

Conclusions: Early education reduces health behavioral risk factors by enhancing educational attainment, health insurance coverage, income, and family environments. Further follow-up will be needed to determine the long-term health effects of PPP.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child Day Care Centers / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child Development*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Curriculum*
  • Education*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Insurance, Health
  • Male
  • Social Environment
  • Socioeconomic Factors