June 15, 2007, Newsletter Issue #103: Medical Issues in Internationally Adopted Children

Tip of the Week

Medical issues are not uncommon with international adoptions. In many foreign countries, children are available for adoption due to abandonment, extreme poverty, the death of one or both parents, or some type of family problems such as drug abuse, alcoholism or child abuse. Children from third world countries are especially susceptible to a number of diseases.

The most common medical issues in internationally adopted children are malnutrition, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, minor congenital defects, tuberculosis, reactive attachment disorder, sensory integration dysfunction, hepatitis A, B, or C, and HIV/AIDS. Children who have been living in institutions are also at risk for developmental delays. Many of these health concerns are minor and can be treated in the United States. Parents can assess their risks when they receive the referral of a child.

It is important to note that sometimes information about the child's biological parents' medical history is available and other times it is not. Physicians who specialize in adoption referrals as well as adoption professionals can help adopting families prepare for and understand potential health risks related to their specific child. Adopting parents should also consider that health problems might emerge at any time in a person's life, whether he is adopted or not.

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