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An Pediatr (Barc). 2003 Feb;58(2):128-35.

[Children and adolescents in foster care: health problems and guidelines for their health care].

[Article in Spanish]

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Servicios de Pediatría y Adolescencia. Instituto Aragonés de Servicios Sociales. Departamento de Salud, Consumo y Servicios Sociales. Gobierno de Aragón. Zaragoza. España.


In Spain, between 8,000 and 10,000 children and adolescents enter foster or residential care every year. This article aims to provide a review to increase knowledge of the health problems of minors in foster care.Sixty-five percent of the studies consulted were performed in the USA, 25 % in Spain and 10 % in other developed and industrialized countries. These studies report that a high percentage of these minors present complicated and serious physical, mental, and/or developmental problems. However, no appreciable qualitative differences in the most frequent health problems presented by these minors have been observed and there is general consensus that the high-priority health needs are the provision of preventive and/or therapeutic psychopedagogic, psychiatric, dermatologic, dental, nutritional, ophthalmologic, respiratory and immunization services. Failure to identify and provide early treatment of the health needs of these minors not only adversely affects their quality of life and future physical, emotional and intellectual development, but can also increase their difficulties in adaptation while in foster care and their future social adaptation. Their permanent relationship with the biological or adoptive family when foster care stops could also be jeopardized. Therefore, all children and adolescents in foster care should receive initial health screenings, comprehensive assessments and monitoring of their physical, mental health, and developmental status. We provide guidelines for the healthcare of these minors, which should be of use to healthcare professionals taking care of these children and adolescents while they remain in foster care.

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