Children In Foster Care Have A Higher Risk In Mental And Physical Health Problems: Research

First Posted: Oct 18, 2016 05:10 AM EDT

Children being left alone or taken away from their parents usually end up in foster care. An average child would wait up to two years to be adopted. A current research shows that the feeling of being neglected could result in mental and physical health problems.

Previous research found that in 2014, 650,000 children in the United States alone ended up in foster care. In the study, children develop physical and mental issues as a result of the trauma coming from the abuse or the feeling of being neglected.

Now, a team of researchers conducted a new study, comparing the health of children in foster care and the children in the general population. The study author from the University of California-Irvine Kristin Turney stated that no study regarding the comparison of both children has ever been conducted.

In the study, Turney together with her team gathered and analyzed the data from the National Survey of Children's Health in 2011-2012. The data include 900,000 children from the U.S. and 1.3 percent of them underwent  foster care.

To get the results, the researchers compared the data of the children who never been to foster care, the one who had been adopted from foster care and those living under family arrangements, including single mothers and economically challenge household. Experts then use a logistic regression model, as reported by Medical News Today.

As a result, experts found that with the physical health problems, children in foster care the risk of having asthma and obesity is twice compared to children who never spent time in foster care. Also, the risk of vision and hearing problems are three times higher.

As follows, the effect on the mental health, researchers found that children in foster care have seven times higher risk of depression and five times of greater risks with anxiety. Not only that behavioral status was also analyzed, according to EurekAlert. 

 Children in foster were more likely to have six times more behavioral problems and three times at risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD. Experts also found that children in foster care are twice as likely to have developmental delays and learning disabilities.

In line with this, Kristin Turney said that "Our findings also present serious implications for pediatricians by suggesting that foster care placement is a risk factor for health problems in childhood."

However, Turney added that the study expands their understanding of the vulnerability  the physical and mental health of the children. But, they need to study further to understand how foster care could affect the children's well-being.

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