The legacy for children™ randomized control trial: Effects on cognition through third grade for young children experiencing poverty

Ruth Perou, Lara R. Robinson, Melissa L. Danielson, Angelika H. Claussen, Susanna N. Visser, Keith G. Scott, Leila Beckwith, Lynne Katz, D. Camille Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective:In an effort to promote the health and developmental outcomes of children born into poverty, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conceptualized and designed the Legacy for Children™ (Legacy) public health prevention model. This article examines the impact of Legacy on children's cognitive and language development (intelligence quotient [IQ], achievement, language skills, and early reading skills) using both standardized assessments and parent-reported indictors through third grade.Methods:Data were collected from 2001 to 2014 from 541 mother-child dyads who were recruited into the 2 concurrent randomized controlled trials of Legacy in Miami and Los Angels. Cognitive and/or language outcomes of children were assessed annually from age 2 to 5 years as well as during a follow-up visit in the third grade.Results:Children experiencing Legacy at the Los Angeles site had significantly higher IQ and achievement scores at 2 and 6 years postintervention, equivalent to approximately one-third of an SD (4 IQ points). IQ results persisted over time, and the difference between intervention and comparison groups on achievement scores widened. There were no significant differences in cognitive outcomes in the Miami sample. There were no significant differences in language outcomes for either site.Conclusion:Legacy shows evidence of effectiveness as an intervention to prevent cognitive delays among children living in poverty. The mixed findings across sites may not only reflect the impact of heterogeneous risk profiles noted by other intervention research programs but also warrant additional study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-284
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2019


  • child development
  • cognitive
  • early intervention
  • language
  • parenting
  • poverty
  • prevention
  • public health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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