Major Findings! High Quality Early Education Programs Improve Adult Health, Reduce Disease

HeckmanHealthResearchers have found a new strategy to prevent chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and obesity – high quality early childhood programs. A 30-year study of children who participated in the Abecedarian program shows that these children have significantly improved health as adults, make healthier lifestyle choices and experience fewer illnesses as adults, according to new research from Nobel laureate economist James Heckman and colleagues at the University of Chicago, University College London and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina.

This groundbreaking research was published today in Science.

According to the researchers, the findings have signficant implications for public policy. They recommend that policymakers:

  • Recognize that quality, birth-to-five early childhood development programs can and should be used to prevent adult chronic disease.
  • Make quality early childhood development an integral part of ongoing healthcare reform, particularly among families receiving Medicaid and CHIP.
  • Understand that quality early childhood programs start with effective perinatal care for mothers and begin at birth for children.
  • Integrate early health and nutrition into early childhood development programs. Early health is critical for later adult health outcomes.

The Heckman Equation will be hosting a webinar to review the findings on April 7 at 2:00 p.m. EDT/11:00 a.m. PDT. To register, click here.

Download a two-page fact sheet on the findings. You can also view or download the research paper, a two-page summary and other resources at

Read Frank Porter Graham Child Development’s announcement.