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Deprivation prior to adoption negatively affects later mental health

March 21, 2017

Adoptees exposed to institutions shortly after birth had increased risk for mental and neurodevelopmental impairment later in life, despite living in supportive families for more than 20 years, according to a study in Romania.

“Being exposed to very severe conditions in childhood can be associated with lasting and deep-seated social, emotional and cognitive problems, which are complex and vary over time,” Edmund Sonuga-Barke, PhD, of King’s College London, said in a press release. “This highlights the importance of assessing patients from deprived backgrounds when providing mental health support and carefully planning care when these patients transfer from child to adult mental health care. Although focused on children adopted from Romanian institutions in the early 1990s, our findings may also be relevant to large numbers of children who are still exposed to abusive or neglectful conditions around the world.”

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