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Keywords:

  • Adoption;
  • alcohol;
  • Eastern Europe;
  • growth retardation;
  • neurodevelopment disorder

Abstract

Design: A population-based study of pre-adoption, arrival and post-adoption health. Aim: To report prenatal and postnatal background factors, morbidity, growth and development in adoptees from Eastern Europe. Subjects and Methods: All 99 children born in Eastern Europe between 1990 and 1995 and adopted to western Sweden during 1993–1997 were invited to participate in the study. Altogether, 76 (77%) participated. Medical records from the birth countries, from the examination at arrival and from medical reports made during a mean post-adoption period of 5 years were evaluated. Results: Low birth weight (≤2500 g) occurred in 48%. Congenital malformations were found in 22%. The biological mothers of 33% of the children had been considered alcoholics, and 16% of the children's mothers had been diagnosed with a psychiatric disability. A high incidence of infectious diseases, neurodevelopment disorders and growth retardation had been noted during the pre-adoption period. Upon arrival in Sweden 75% were diagnosed with a medical condition, most often an infection. After a 5-year post-adoption period, small head circumference was associated with alcohol exposure during pregnancy and 46% had at least one neurodevelopment or behavioural disorder.

Conclusion: Adverse prenatal and perinatal factors, congenital malformations and post-adoption neurodevelopment disorders were common. Adoptees and adopters have complex needs for health support and information.