May 1992

The Physical Health of Children in Kinship Care

Author Affiliations

From the Divisions of General Pediatrics (Drs Dubowitz, Feigelman, Lichenstein, and Tepper) and Adolescent Medicine (Dr Davidson), the Department of Pediatrics, University of Maryland School of Medicine, and the School of Social Work, University of Maryland, Baltimore (Dr Zuravin).

Am J Dis Child. 1992;146(5):603-610. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1992.02160170083021

• Objective.  —The objectives of this study were to assess the current and chronic health problems and the adequacy of primary health care of children placed with a relative (kinship care) by a public agency.

Research Design.  —Population survey.

Setting.  —Children in kinship care in Baltimore, Md.

Participants.  —Four hundred seven (78%) of 524 children in kinship care in 1989.

Interventions.  —None.

Measxurements/Main Results.  —Information on the child's health status and care was obtained via a review of medical records; questionnaires sent to primary care physicians, parents, care givers, and caseworkers; and clinical assessment of the child by a nurse, pediatrician, and child psychologist. The children were found to have health problems similar to those in foster and poor children, but more problems than American children in general. Frequent diagnoses included impaired visual acuity and hearing, obesity, dental caries, and asthma; often, these problems had not been identified or treated. Gaps in the medical records precluded firm conclusions concerning the children's primary care, but suggest an inadequate system for ensuring their health care.

Conclusions.  —There is a need for improving the system of health care for children in kinship care. There is also a need for additional research on this high-risk group of children.(AJDC. 1992;146:603-610)