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Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2008 Jan;78(1):11-9. doi: 10.1037/0002-9432.78.1.11.

Behavioral outcomes for substance-exposed adopted children: fourteen years postadoption.

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Graduate School of Social Work, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467, USA.


From a life course perspective, studies of cumulative disadvantage often identify early risk factors as predictors of poor outcomes. This study examined the influence of prenatal substance exposure on children's externalizing behaviors at 14 years postadoption. Using Wave 4 data from the California Long-Range Adoption Study, the authors employed growth curve modeling to examine behavioral trajectories of 275 children as influenced by foster care status, age at adoption, and gender. Outcomes are measured using a shortened Behavioral Problem Index. Prenatal exposure predicted elevated behavior problems that increased normatively compared with nonexposed children, and were not found to trigger the negative behavior sequelae once feared. Foster children tended to fare better over the life course than those adopted through other means, except for children adopted at older ages. Adopted children's problem behaviors may be directly associated with the success of their placements. The authors discuss implications for practice and future research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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