Health Status of Adopted Chinese Orphans Arrival in the US

Health Status of Adopted Chinese Orphans on Arrival in the US PDF Print E-mail
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Sunday, 22 November 2009 21:27

From the International Adoption Clinics at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN and Tufts New England Medical Center, Boston, MA and the office of Dr. Michael Traister, New York, NY.

Over a 36 month period, information was collected via direct examination (49%) or through a mail-in questionnaire (51%) from 154 Chinese children.  Most (98%) were girls.  Children arrived in at an average age of 10 months and had been living in orphanages for an average of 9 months.

Infectious Diseases

Infectious diseases commonly encountered in international adoptees were rare.  Of those children tested, hepatitis B and intestinal parasites were encountered in less than 5% of adoptees.  Syphilis and tuberculosis were diagnosed in less than 2%.  No child was positive for the AIDS virus.  An unexplained cluster of hepatitis C infected infants in Yangzhou was confirmed.

Lead Levels

Blood lead levels were normal in 90% of children tested (n=31) and only mildly elevated in the remainder.


Assessment of 19 infants in six areas revealed abnormalities in one or more areas of development in two-thirds of children.  Strength and gross motor skills were affected most commonly while tone was rarely abnormal.  Delays usually improved rapidly after arrival.


Stature was affected with children falling behind one month of linear growth for each 3.4 months in the orphanage.  Rickets, a diagnosis made frequently in China was not clinically obvious in any child, but biochemical markers indicating early rickets were more likely to be found as children grew older.


Chinese adoptees have few major medical problems on arrival principally due to their young age and limited exposure to orphanage life. Older Chinese orphans show more sequlae of orphanage life.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 March 2010 06:59

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