A study begun in 1972 confirms this truth and adds some more information about children who were assigned to two different groups.
One group got daycare including daily meals and activities. The other group did not receive such services. Researchers thought the daycare group would have better skills in thinking and performing in school.
The researchers were not looking for an impact on the health of the children when they became adults. But they found that the daycare group was far healthier, had sharply lower rates of high blood pressure and obesity and had higher levels of “good” cholesterol.
The study is leading some people to think that preschool programs are not enough. A scientist said that programs have to begin in infancy. That is the developmental stage when many skills are learned that lead to successful adulthood.
The study is called the Carolina Abecedarian Project. About 100 infants from low-income families were put into the two groups. They were followed until their mid-thirties.
School performance was the initial reason for the experiment. The kids performed the same until they were about three years old. Then, the kids who received daycare starting doing better in school. By age thirty the kids who were in the daycare group were four times more likely to have graduated from college.
Better health was not foreseen for the adults from the daycare group. But it turned out that they were much healthier that the adults who came from the non-daycare group.
The study is old and some say too small to reach conclusions. But others say the investment in care for infants and toddlers will have huge payoffs in reducing the cost of health care down the road. Chances for economic and social achievement may also be significantly improved.
Source: The New York Times March 27, 2014