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Anticipating Potential Medical Problems in Adopted Children

September 21, 2006

LDS Family Services, Sandy, Utah
Gordon Glade, MD

Medical Conditions Child Birth parents Comments

Allergies/Asthma Manageable. May need to Increases likelihood of child Avoid some foods during
alter family habits and having infancy if strong family history
administer medication
Cancer Many medical interventions. Some cancers are inherited. Ask health care provider for
Hard to see child suffer or details once type is known.
Cystic Fibrosis Many medications and Child will carry gene but Huge commitment.
hospitalizations. Shortened must have gene from both
life expectancy. parents to have disease.
1/20 Americans are
Diabetes Lots of blood testing, shots or Poorly controlled maternal Child can live very healthy and
pump and doctor visits diabetes associated with happy life.
many birth defects and
neonatal problems.
Major organ diseases or Probably means more Increased risk of Ask health care provider once
defects. medical care inheritance with some specifics are known.
Epilepsy Usually can be controlled. Maternal use of some anti-
Rarely uncontrollable. seizure drugs associated
Associated with other with birth defects.
problems sometimes.
Hearing impairment Find out through newborn 90% of deaf parents have Lots of help available. High
screening hearing children. cost and time commitment.
Sometimes child may become
deaf later on.
Hemophilia Altered life style. May have Most commonly inherited Other bleeding disorders are
many hospital/doctor visits. from mother (who is a more common and can be
carrier) to son. 50% chance treated.
of son not being affected.
Blood Diseases Sickle Cell Disease is huge 50% chance of passing on Easy to test child if parent
challenge. Thalassemia trait which can be affected. Screen all black
major associated with early managed. children for SSD. Check CBC in
death. international adoptees.
Huntington’s Disease May not know until later in 50% chance that child will Progressive neurologic
life be affected. deterioration.
Muscular Dystrophy May be progressive, Some forms are inherited Better information once
debilitating & lethal. by 50% of children. specific type is known
Sometimes less severe.
Obesity Many medical & psychosocial Genetics only partially Treatment most successful
complications. responsible. when entire family is involved.
Spina Bifida Depends on severity Can be familial. Incidence Extremely complex. May lead
decreased if mother takes to severe complications.
folic acid.
Visual impairment Many types are treatable. Usually blindness not
Blind children develop and inherited.
learn differently.
ADHD Treatable with behavior Increases chances for child Variable, hyperactive type is
modification and/or to have ADHD most challenging for parents.
medication. Increased
incidence of problems if
Anxiety/Panic Disorder Treatable 50% of cause is genetic. Usually not diagnosed until
later childhood
Bipolar disorder Very challenging 50% of cause is genetic. Chronic
Depression Diagnosed more in 50% of cause is genetic. May resolve completely.
adolescents, though can Treatment is frequently
affect children. effective.
Schizophrenia Rarely diagnosed until late 10% of offspring also Chronic, severe, disabling brain
teens or young adulthood affected disorder
Tourette’s Syndrome Wide spectrum of disease Increased chance of Variable severity and many
affected offspring associated conditions
OCD Responds to cognitive Increased chance of
behavioral therapy affected offspring
Learning Disability Requires specific educational Dyslexia: ¼ to ½ of offspring Need for increased guided
interventions. Hard to affected. parental help.
diagnose before age 5+.
Personality Disorder Not usually diagnosed until May be more related to A serious mental illness
late teens trauma in childhood than to characterized by pervasive
genetics. instability in moods,
interpersonal relationships,
self-image, and behavior
Autism spectrum Care is resource and time Genetic predisposition Problems of attachment and
disorders intensive language
Emotional/attachment Very hard to overcome Will affect child Frequently a result of early
issues childhood experiences. May
lead to giving up child.
Substance Abuse
Alcohol Very worrisome if mom
drank alcohol
Tobacco Maternal use leads to
intrauterine growth
Cocaine Compromises blood flow in Associated with poor prenatal
infant affecting brain, care
abdominal wall and
Opiates Excessively irritable Addicted but can function Sometimes no treatment
necessary. Other times
treatment for withdrawal lasts
Congenital Infections
HIV Can have no symptoms or be If treated correctly and she Serial tests are required on
devastating. Treatment may doesn’t breast feed, baby infant born to mother with
allow for normal life. can be born without HIV. HIV.

CMV, Toxoplasmosis, Rubella, Syphilis, Chicken pox, Herpes simplex, Parvovirus, All associated with mild to
Malaria, etc. lethal effects on infant.
Other special needs
Mental retardation Depends on severity. Genetic factors not well
Cerebral palsy Many additional resources Not significant Impairment of movement and
needed posture. Many causes
Down Syndrome Increased associated birth Problems with growth,
defects. development, hearing, vision
and cognition. Increased
leukemia, heart defects
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Poor growth, mental
retardation, small head,
heart defects
Physical Abuse Can leave life time emotional Frequently passed on to
and physical scars offspring
Physical Deformity Obtain details
Physical Neglect Can have long term effects If not prolonged, effects can be
Premature birth Can have long term effects Obtain details
Sexual abuse Can have long term effects Age of incident, timely
counseling, subsequent safe
and stable environment can
aid healing