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Can J Psychiatry. 1992 Nov;37(9):627-33.

Psychiatric disorders in adopted children: a profile from the Ontario Child Health Study.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Chedoke-McMaster Hospital, Hamilton, Ontario.


Studies of clinical populations suggest that adopted children are overrepresented among children using mental health facilities, whereas studies using non clinical populations of adopted children have reached mixed conclusions about whether or not there is an increased psychological risk associated with adoption. Data from the Ontario Child Health Study, a community survey of children aged four to 16 years, which included a subpopulation of adopted children, were used to: 1. profile the characteristics of adoptive families; 2. examine the strength of adoptive status as a marker for psychiatric and educational morbidity; and 3. determine the extent to which adoptive status has an independent relationship with psychiatric and educational morbidities. The findings were: 1. adoptive mothers were significantly older than non adoptive mothers, but otherwise adoptive families did not differ significantly from non adoptive families, 2. adoption in boys, but not in girls, was a significant marker for psychiatric disorder and poor school performance; adoption in adolescent girls was a significant marker for substance use; and 3. multivariate analyses demonstrated no independent effect of adoption on psychiatric disorder or poor school performance; for adolescents, adoptive status did have an independent relationship with substance use for girls. The implications of these findings will be discussed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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