A Report on the Medical Condition of Children Arrived from China

A Report on the Medical Condition of Children Arrived from China PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Traister, M.D.
Saturday, 26 December 2009 14:53
Medically caring for children adopted from countries outside of the United States may pose some unique problems for the pediatrician.  Family history, birrth history, early growth and development records are either non-existent or unreliable.  Medical problems that be common to that country may not exist here or be relatively uncommon in the community or experience of the pediatrician.

In my practice (390 West End Avenue, New York City), I have had the opportunity to examine upon their arrival and then to follow 10 infants adopted from the People’s Republic of China in the last two years.  I am pleased to report that these children as a group are all seemingly remarkably healthy.  They have not suffered the ill-effects of severe psycho-social deprivation and chronic medical diseases seen in some institutionalized orphan populations, for example, from Eastern Europe.  Although some of the older infants arrived with slight delays in development, all of them progressed rapidly and most of the recent arrivals have already caught up to other infants their age.

Most medical problems seen are common problems, seen in many children born and brought up in New York City.  For example, none of the infants that I have examined are chronic carriers of  Hepatitis B which might have been transmitted from birth mother to infants attthe time of delivery.  Of the infants tested to date, none have tested positive for exposure to Tuberculosis.  Some had had the BCG vaccination, a vaccine against TB used in many parts of the world including China, and  have not yet been tested for TB because the vaccine could produce false positive results.   I have not requested stool examinations for parasites on the infants; parasites are usually not acquired until after 6 to 12 months of age and most of the infants adopted are less than 12 months old at the time of adoption.

I recently spoke with Dr. Dana Johnson, of the University of Minnesota’s International Adoption Clinic.  He has been conducting a research study to evaluate children adopted from Eastern Europe and the People’s Republic of China, paying particular attention to the types of diseases that exist in that part of the world.    At the time of our discussion, Dr. Johnson had included about 20 infants adopted from China is his study and reports results similar to mine:  The infants adopted from China so far seem healthy, without the problems of severe psycho-social deprivation, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, parasites, etc. which have been seen in some of the chidren adopted internationally, especially from Romania.  With the permission of our parents I plan to forward our data to Dr. Johnson to be included in their study.

To find out more information about the Univeristy of Minnesota’s International Adoption Clinic or to participate in their study, please contact Ms. Sandy Iverson at 612-626-6777.

In conclusion, having the opportunity to see the children so soon after their arrival from China, meeting their parents, and watching them grow and flourish has been a real pleasure and a rich experience for me as a physician.     -MT

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