Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 599–605

Health of Children Adopted from Ethiopia

Authors

    • International Adoption ClinicTufts-New England Medical Center
  • Beverly Tseng
    • International Adoption ClinicTufts-New England Medical Center
  • Linda G. Tirella
    • International Adoption ClinicTufts-New England Medical Center
  • Wilma Chan
    • International Adoption ClinicTufts-New England Medical Center
  • Emily Feig
    • International Adoption ClinicTufts-New England Medical Center
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10995-007-0274-4

Cite this article as:
Miller, L.C., Tseng, B., Tirella, L.G. et al. Matern Child Health J (2008) 12: 599. doi:10.1007/s10995-007-0274-4

Abstract

Objectives Since 2000, American families have adopted 1,700 children from Ethiopia. Little is known about the health and development of these children. Patients and Methods Retrospective chart review of the arrival health status of all 50 (26F:24M) children from Ethiopia/Eritrea seen in the International Adoption Clinic. Results Prior to adoption, most children resided with relatives; 36% were >18 months old prior to entry into care. More than 50% were true orphans, often due to HIV. Arrival age ranged from 3 months to 15 years (mean ± SD 4 years ± 43.8 months). At arrival, growth z scores were near-average (weight −.59, height −.64, head circumference −.09); significantly better than adopted children Guatemala, China, or Russia seen in our clinic. However, some Ethiopian children were significantly growth delayed (WAZ ≤−2, 8%, HAZ 12%, HCZ 18%). Age at adoption did not relate to growth delays. Medical issues on arrival included intestinal parasites (53%, [14% with ≥3 types]), skin infections (45%), dental caries (25%), elevated liver transaminases (20%), latent tuberculosis (18%), and hepatitis B (2%). Age-appropriate vaccines had been administered in 15–77% of children (depending on specific vaccine). Behavior problems were uncommon. Gross/fine motor and cognitive skills were ∼86% of expected for age. Age correlated inversely with developmental scores for cognition (r = −.49, P = .003). Five children had age reassignments. Conclusions Ethiopian/Eritean adoptees differ from other groups of internationally adopted children: they reside for relatively long periods of time with relatives prior to institutionalization, often have uncertain ages, exhibit few behavioral problems at arrival, have better growth, and may have less severe developmental delays. Whether these differences at arrival predict better outcomes for the Ethiopian/Eritrean children is unknown.

Keywords

International adoptionOrphanageEthiopiaEritrea

Abbreviations

AIDS

Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome

ANOVA

Analysis of variance

AST

Asparate aminotransferase

BCG

Bacille Camille-Guérin

DTP

Diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis

HAZ

Height-for-age z score

HCZ

Head circumference-for-age z score

Hep B

Hepatitis B

HIV

Human immunodeficiency virus

MMR

Measles, mumps, rubella

NS

Not significant

sAb

Surface antibody

sAg

Surface antigen

SD

Standard deviation

WAZ

Weight-for-age z score

WHZ

Weight-for-height z score

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007