Saturday, January 12, 2008
Do adopted children face special health risks?
Infants who spend their first few months in institutions, however technically good the care, have more fevers and respiratory infections than normal. These institutionalized children may also lag in growth and weight gain. Fortunately, most of the babies show a dramatic improvement once adopted into a loving home.
If the birth mother of an adoptive baby has received little or no prenatal care, the result can be a low-birth weight child susceptible not only to physical complications but to certain intellectual ones as well. Some physicians believe that a stressful pregnancy can cause attention-deficit disorder, a condition that impairs the child's ability to concentrate and therefore to learn.
A long-term health problem for adoptees can result from their lack of medical history. When a doctor asks people who have been adopted whether their parents had diabetes or heart disease, in most cases the adoptee can't answer. What could be vital in diagnosis or treatment is unknown.
It is often the need for medical information that prompts adoptees to undertake a search for their birth parents. Not all these searches have happy endings, but in 1986 one mother happily donated a kidney to the daughter she had despaired of ever seeing again after giving her up for adoption 20 years earlier.