The Philani Mentor Mothers Project aims to improve the health and well-being of vulnerable pregnant mothers and infants from low-income households, through a strategy of home visits by specially trained para-professional “mentor mothers”.

Maternal antenatal depression has long-term consequences for children’s health. This research assesses whether home visits by community health workers can improve growth outcomes for children of mothers who are antenatally depressed.

A cluster randomized controlled trial of all pregnant, neighbourhood women in Cape Town, South Africa.  Almost all pregnant women (98 %, N = 1238) were recruited and assessed during pregnancy, two weeks post-birth (92 %) and 6 months post-birth (88 %). Pregnant women were randomized to either: 1) Standard Care (SC), which provided routine antenatal care; or 2) an intervention, The Philani Intervention Program (PIP), which included SC and home visits by CHW trained as generalists (M = 11 visits). Child standardized weight, length, and weight by
length over 6 months based on maternal antenatal depression and intervention condition

Authors: Mark Tomlinson, PhD, (Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch University, Matieland, Stellenbosch, South Africa), Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus, PhD (Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Institute, University of California at Los Angeles), Jessica Harwood (Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Institute, University of California at Los Angeles), Ingrid Le Roux, MD, (Philani Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Programme, Elonwabeni, Cape Town, South Africa), Mary O’Connor (Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Institute, University of California at Los Angeles) and Carol Worthman (Department of Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, USA).

To access the full report, please contact svetlana@ilifalabantwana.co.za or markt@sun.ac.za.

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