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January 1995

Developmental and Nutritional Status of Internationally Adopted Children

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Pediatrics (Drs Miller and Klein-Gitelman) and Occupational Therapy (Drs Kiernan and Mathers), Floating Hospital for Children, New England Medical Center, Boston, Mass. Dr Klein-Gitelman is now with the Division of Rheumatology, Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Ill.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149(1):40-44. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1995.02170130042009

Objectives:  To assess the relationship between developmental status of international adoptees at the time of entry into the United States and their nutritional status and concurrent medical problems.

Design:  Prospective study.

Setting/Patients:  One hundred twenty-nine internationally adopted children attending the International Adoption Clinic at the Floating Hospital for Children, Boston, Mass, underwent detailed developmental assessments, anthropometric measurements, and medical examinations.

Results:  The anthropometric measurements of the international adoptees were below the means for weight, height, and head circumference based on standards of the World Health Organization. Only 65 children (50%) were developmentally normal. Gross motor delays were identified in 43 children (33%), fine motor delays in 52 (40%), language delays in 23 (18%), cognitive delays in 21 (16%), and global delays in 18 (14%). The severity of delays were related to z scores for weight, height, and head circumference. The 36 children with medical problems had lower z scores compared with healthy children and were more likely to have delayed development.

Conclusions:  Careful developmental and growth screening of internationally adopted children at entry into the United States identifies children in need of interventions and close follow-up. Longitudinal studies of internationally adopted children may provide evidence about the reversibility of growth and developmental delays, findings applicable to any environmentally deprived child.(Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995;149:40-44)