Longitudinal Effects of Extended Early Childhood Intervention

Project: Research project

Project Details


This study investigates the mediators and processes through which education outcomes influence physical and mental health in the prospective Chicago Longitudinal Study (CLS) cohort from preschool to age 41. The goal is to identify key sources of the well-established links between educational success, attainment, and a broad set of health outcomes. The major focus is biomarkers for cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, including hypertension, diabetes, obesity, health behaviors, and depression. Existing research has emphasized preventing CVD in adulthood after many risk factors have developed. Sources of influence in early childhood and that operate at different levels have been underinvestigated. The early mediators that are identified can be a focus of prevention efforts to reduce the initial development of risk factors.

The five major questions are:
1. What are the differential effects of cognitive and noncognitive skills on education and health outcomes?
1. Which particular skills account for the education to health links?
2. Does family and school quality affect physical, mental, and behavior health in midlife? To what extent is
this impact through educational attainment?
3. Does the Five-Hypothesis Model (5HM) account for health outcomes of early educational environments? Is
this replicated in a new-generation diverse population group?
4. Do instructional, program, and school practices predict educational success and attainment?
5. Do school experiences and policies buffer the effects of adverse child experiences (ACE) on health outcomes?

This study will include an in-person health clinic screening which will be conducted at Northwestern University in 200 participants to measure CVD biomarkers, physical activity and diet, and depression and substance use. The CLS is one of the largest studies of the effects of early experiences. The research questions directly address the Healthy People 2020 (HP20) goals of increasing quality and years of healthy life and eliminating health disparities. The study is linked to most of the 28 focal areas, including social determinants of health and access to quality health programs. It also addresses the American Heart Association’s (AHA) 2020 goal to “improve the cardiovascular health of all Americans by 20% while reducing deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20%.” The avoidable economic burden of CVD, mental health problems, obesity, school dropout, and chronic health conditions exceed $1 trillion annually. Since the CLS has shown that early skills, family support behaviors, and school quality indicators predict early adult outcomes, this study will investigate these and other mediators to physical and mental health up to age 41. The major contributions of the study are to (a) increase knowledge about mediators linking education experiences to physical and mental health for populations at elevated risks, (b) document enduring effects of educational experiences and their mediators, (c) assess the differential relations between educational attainment indicators and health, (d) identify subgroups for whom mediators are most impactful, and (e) translate findings on the common mediators that account for education to health outcomes.
Effective start/end date1/1/1712/31/19


  • University of Minnesota (A005404701//5R01HD034294-23)
  • National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (A005404701//5R01HD034294-23)


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