Do the Effects of Early Severe Deprivation on Cognition Persist Into Early Adolescence? Findings From the English and Romanian Adoptees Study


  • We are most grateful to all the families who have generously given their time to participating in this study, and whose comments and suggestions have been very helpful in relation to the interpretation of findings. The data collection phase of the study was supported by grants from the Helmut Horten Foundation and the U.K. Department of Health. Ongoing support is provided by grants from the Department of Health, the Nuffield Foundation, and the Jacobs Foundation. We express our thanks to our external Advisory Group, whose input has been invaluable. Barbara Maughan is supported by the U.K. Medical Research Council. The views expressed in this article are ours and do not necessarily represent those of the funders.

concerning this article should be addressed to Celia Beckett, Box Number 80, SGDP Centre, King's College, University of London, de Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF. Electronic mail may be sent to


Cognitive outcomes at age 11 of 131 Romanian adoptees from institutions were compared with 50 U.K. adopted children. Key findings were of both continuity and change: (1) marked adverse effects persisted at age 11 for many of the children who were over 6 months on arrival; (2) there was some catch-up between ages 6 and 11 for the bottom 15%; (3) there was a decrease of 15 points for those over 6 months on arrival, but no differentiation within the 6–42-month range; (4) there was marked heterogeneity of outcome but this was not associated with the educational background of the adoptive families. The findings draw attention to the psychological as well as physical risks of institutional deprivation.